BURLINGTON, Vt., April 23 - U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today highlighted Vermont's progress in using geothermal technology to cut heating costs, support jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Investments in geothermal energy will reduce the $350 billion a year that Americans spend to import oil from foreign countries. In Vermont alone, homeowners and businesses rely on fossil fuel for 83 percent of the state's heating needs. That is changing thanks to dramatic advancements in sustainable energy sources like biomass and the less noticed, but rapidly-growing use of geothermal technology.
There now are geothermal systems in place at Champlain College, the Veterans Home in Bennington; the state office building in Bennington; Stoweflake Mountain Resort; NRG Systems in Hinesburg; the Vietnam veterans rest stop on I-89 in Sharon; two Vermont Air National Guard buildings at the Burlington Airport and a Vermont Army National Guard building in Jericho; the Lawrence Barnes School in Burlington; C.P. Smith Elementary School in Burlington; the headquarters building for the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge in Franklin County; the Border Patrol office in Derby; and St. Johnsbury Academy.
In addition, the Echo Lake Aquarium in Burlington, St. Michael's College, and the Sutton School in the Northeast Kingdom are in the process of installing geothermal systems.
"We are also seeing more geothermal in new homes and existing homes as well," said Sanders, a member of the Senate energy and environment committees. "The reason for that is very simple. Whether you are building a new home, or trying to make an existing home more efficient, geothermal is going to save a substantial sum of money compared to fossil fuels."
Geothermal systems draw on underground temperatures to pump heat into buildings in the winter and cooler underground temperatures for air conditioning in the summer. It costs only one-third as much as oil and the price of installing geothermal systems may be offset by a 30 percent federal tax credit for homeowners.
It is important, Sanders stressed, that more than 99 percent of the geothermal systems installed in America were manufactured in America, according to the most recent Energy Information Administration data. "Geothermal is a win for the environment, a win for consumers, and a win for job creation in Vermont," Sanders said.
Joining the senator at a news conference in his Burlington office were Nick Manosh, vice president of Manosh Corp.; John Caulo, the acting vice president for campus planning at Champlain College; Jeff Williams, a vice president of Spafford and Sons Water Wells; and James Ashley of Green Mountain Geothermal.