Senator Sees Solar as Alternative to Foreign Oil
BURLINGTON, January 13 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) went to the Salmon Run Apartments today to announce a project to install solar water heaters here and at three other Vermont affordable housing developments.
In addition to the project launched in cooperation with the Champlain Housing Trust, the $500,000 that Sanders secured also will help pay for energy-efficient and money-saving solar water systems at the Highgate Apartments in Barre, Westgate Apartments in Brattleboro, and Applegate Apartments in Bennington.
“At a time when we are spending $350 billion a year importing oil from Saudi Arabia and other countries, it is important that the United States move away from foreign oil to energy independence,” Sanders said. “Programs like this are a major step forward.”
The U.S. Department of Energy grant for solar water heaters will put solar equipment in 80 apartments at Salmon Run in Burlington. The solar grant, the biggest of its kind in Vermont, also will help finance installation of the water heaters in 322 more apartments at the three other sites throughout Vermont. Altogether, some 1,000 residents will benefit from the project that will provide half of their hot water from solar energy.
Since water heating is responsible for as much as 25 percent of an average U.S. household’s annual energy usage, the Vermont project will significantly decrease energy costs while making cutting-edge renewable energy technology accessible to more Vermonters.
The $500,000 grant will be matched by $700,000 in additional public and private funds. A Vermont company will install the solar hot water systems, making the project an example of green jobs at work in our own backyard, noted Sanders, the chairman of the Senate Green Jobs and New Economy Subcommittee.
In addition to the project that the senator announced today, the $787 billion economic stimulus bill that Congress passed last year offers eligible homeowners a tax credit equivalent to 30 percent of the cost to buy and install solar hot water systems. Since solar water heating systems can pay for themselves in as few as five years, the incentives will make this technology more accessible than ever before.