Release: Vermont Guard Solar Project Launched

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt., April 18 - U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Maj. Gen. Michael Dubie, the Vermont National Guard commander, broke ground today on an $8.5 million solar installation that will be one of the biggest in Vermont.
 
Sanders is chairman of the Senate green jobs subcommittee. He has worked with the Vermont National Guard to make its base one of the greenest in the country.
 
"It is appropriate that we are here today to break ground on what will be one of the largest solar energy projects in Vermont because Vermont is one of the most environmentally conscious states in our nation. We lead the country in energy efficiency and, through projects like this, are making progress in increasing our use of sustainable energy," Sanders said.
 
"It is also appropriate that this project is located at our Vermont National Guard base, because as much as anyone, our military service members understand the critical importance of breaking our dependence on foreign oil, and moving our nation to energy independence," he added.
 
The United States spends some $1 billion a day on foreign oil. The U.S. imports about 9 million barrels of oil every day, and almost half of it comes from countries that the State Department has labeled dangerous or unstable. "This leaves our nation vulnerable to volatility and price spikes in the cost of our energy, and leaves us beholden to the OPEC cartel and unstable countries for too much of our energy supplies," Sander said.
 
The largest single consumer of energy in the United States is the U.S. military, which spends more than $4 billion a year on energy and transportation fuel costs. That is why the Defense Department been aggressive in setting a target of meeting 25 percent of its electricity needs with renewable energy by 2025, a goal the Vermont solar project will help achieve. 
 
The Department of Defense also has been a strong voice in recognizing the need to address climate change. A Pentagon study called climate change an "accelerant of instability" that will place a burden on the military to respond to disasters and humanitarian crises.
 
"I am proud that our Vermont National Guard is meeting the challenge of reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, meeting the challenge of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, and serving as a model of innovation for other military facilities around the nation," Sanders said.
 
The Vermont National Guard project will generate about 1.45 megawatts of clean solar energy by utilizing a variety of solar photovoltaic technology, including roof-mounted systems, ground-mounted systems, and panels on dual axis trackers that will follow the sun throughout the day to generate power more efficiently.
 
Because the price of solar panels has fallen rapidly, declining 75 percent in the last decade, the guard project is larger than first planned. It also will save taxpayers' money by paring $224,000 from future annual energy costs. 
 
"I appreciate the service of all of the men and women in the Vermont National Guard to our nation, and I thank you for demonstrating real leadership in meeting our state's and our nation's energy challenges, to help us create a more secure and sustainable energy future."