The cold weather from this winter was greeted warmly by officials at IBM in Essex, which has started using frigid winter air to help produce the chilled water it needs to operate the plant s high-tech manufacturing facilities.The new system, called Free Cooling, integrates cold air into the plant s large climate control system to produce 50% of its winter-cooling needs. By taking advantage of the plentiful wintry air, IBM can shut down some of its large chillers, resulting in a projected savings of $400,000 per year in electric costs. Semiconductor clean rooms require that a precise temperature and humidity be maintained around the clock, so until now we have had to run many chillers even in the winter. Our engineering team worked to improve this process and they developed an innovative solution that reduces our energy footprint and cuts power costs by $2,000 to $3,000 a day, said Tim Baechle, Facilities Operations Manager at IBM.The Free Cooling system was paid for in part out of GMP s Energy Efficiency Fund, which was started in 2007 to maximize for its customers the financial and environmental benefits of energy efficiency. IBM received approximately $1.5 million from the fund to help support the costs of the project.Green Mountain Power President and Chief Executive Officer Mary Powell said, We are pleased to partner with our largest customer to cut costs and help the environment. It is one more way we are pursuing our vision of low cost, low emission, highly reliable power. Demand reduction is a key part of our efforts to operate an efficient, environmentally friendly electric system.David O Brien, Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Service agreed that this project shows how businesses in Vermont can be creative in finding ways to reduce energy use. We are very pleased to see IBM and Green Mountain Power work together to take advantage of one of Vermont s natural resources cold air to save energy. The Energy Efficiency Fund is a smart investment that benefits all Green Mountain Power customers through lowering energy use and reducing the need for us to make expensive investments in power generation and transmission, said Ms. Powell.GMP plans to invest $8 million in the Fund by end of 2012, generating approximately $23 million in benefits to the company s customers over time. IBM has had a long term commitment to energy efficiency; we have been able to achieve sustained success because of the creativity and technical depth of our on-site engineering team. The GMP Energy Efficiency Fund created a unique opportunity for us to complete a very large project. It helped us fund an innovative idea that led to reduced costs on one of our largest energy using systems, said Janette Bombardier, Manager of Site Operations at the IBM location.The Free Cooling system has the ability to circulate up to 12,000 gallons of cold water each minute and can create the cooling equivalent of 2,500 window air conditioners. The system started running in December of 2008 and will be used from November through April as weather permits.About Green Mountain PowerGreen Mountain Power (www.greenmountainpower.com(link is external)) transmits, distributes and sells electricity and utility construction services in the State of Vermont in a service territory with approximately one quarter of Vermont s population. It serves more than 200,000 people and businesses.