Thursday January 10, 2013

VERNON -- A significant expansion and a 6,000-square-foot solar project are in the works at Renaud Brothers Inc.'s Vernon headquarters.

The well-known contractor has been consulting with town officials on both projects. And both are expected to happen this year, with the solar panels coming first.

"The planning commission is behind us, and we're moving forward," Mike Renaud, vice president and owner of the company, said of the photovoltaic installation.

Plans call for a 75-kilowatt solar-power project at Renaud's Fort Bridgman Road property. The panels, stretching over 6,000 square feet, would be tied to the electrical grid.

"We should be able to produce (power) in excess of the electricity we use on this site," Renaud said.

The company also has received a certificate of public good for the solar project from the Vermont Public Service Board, and construction will begin soon.

"I believe we're supposed to have it done by March," Renaud said.

Separately, Renaud also is planning an expansion of his metal-fabrication business. The company makes structural steel and performs custom fabrication, Renaud said.

"In recent years, that part of the construction company has been growing," he said, adding that he's been contemplating an expansion for some time.

Plans call for a 3,000-square-foot addition to a 5,000-square-foot building. That will allow steel storage and prefabrication -- much of which currently happens outdoors -- to take place under roof.

"It'll help us expand our capabilities," Renaud said. "We could probably take on bigger jobs."

The project is at an early stage: Renaud must get permission from the state to amend the company's Act 250 permit before any construction can happen.

This week, the Vernon Selectboard signed off on the project. Board members expressed no objections after hearing a short presentation.

"They just gave us their support," Renaud said. "We wanted to give them an opportunity to hear about what we're doing and to let them have input."

If the permitting process goes smoothly, Renaud said he hopes to have the metal-fabrication project finished sometime this year.

Mike Faher can be reached at mfaher@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.