Groundbreaking Solar Project at Richmond School

RICHMOND, Vt., April 16 - Senator Bernie Sanders announced today the launch the largest solar energy project at a Vermont public school.

The Camels Hump Middle School in Richmond will develop a massive array of solar photovoltaic cells to serve as a statewide model. Sanders secured more than $260,000 to help establish a 75-kilowatt array of solar photovoltaic cells.

"This project will not only help Camels Hump Middle School reduce its electric bill and carbon footprint, but will be a major step forward in moving our state toward a greener economy which relies more and more on sustainable energy," Sanders said.

"There is little doubt in my mind that in the years to come the energy mix in this state will be very different than it is today - with a far greater reliance on sustainable energy. I hope that this project becomes a model for what can be done and a catalyst for further action," he added.

The state of Vermont also contributed $250,000 and Green Mountain Power, as part of its Solar on Schools program, put $25,000 toward the pilot project.

"In 1992, we were one of the first schools in Vermont to convert to biomass heating," said Chittenden East Superintendent Jim Massingham. "We are looking forward to taking this next step in showing the way to greater efficiency and hope that our project will help make it easier for other schools to make the best use of their resources. Having a system like this operational on our campus will also provide an invaluable educational resource for our students."

"Their proposal fit perfectly with our Solar On Schools plan and Green Mountain Power's ongoing effort to help build out solar capacity in Vermont," said Mary Powell, Green Mountain Power president and chief executive officer. "By working with schools, we can help to provide a direct community benefit through cost savings while also cutting carbon output and bringing us closer to our goal of installing 10,000 panels in 1,000 days."

David O'Brien, commissioner of the Department of Public Service, said this project fits in with Vermont values. "We know from our public engagement process that Vermonters want to see more in-state renewable energy projects. We're pleased to see the state and federal government, private industry and public schools all come together to build renewable energy in our communities."

The 345 panels will generate about 82,551 kilowatt hours each year, or 12 percent of the school's annual electric usage. Over the 25-year life of the system, almost two million pounds of carbon dioxide will be offset.

Senator Sanders is chairman of the Green Jobs and the New Economy Subcommittee of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. He is also the only member of the Senate majority to serve on both the energy and environment committees.