WASHINGTON, Dec. 4 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today told the Vermont Energy and Climate Action Conference that Vermont leads the nation in electric energy efficiency and in making great strides toward sustainable energy.
Sanders also announced that he secured $90,000 to support Vermont town energy committees. “Investing in these local efforts will help our state make real and significant progress toward meeting our energy vision,” he told the conference’s annual meeting in Fairlee, Vt. Sanders spoke to the some 200 participants by telephone from Washington, where the U.S. Senate was in session on Saturday.
Energy committees have until Jan. 31 to apply for grants of $1,000 to $3,000 for projects including community energy challenges, cooperatives to promote bulk purchase of energy services, do-it-yourself weatherization workshops, residential energy reduction campaigns, school programs and other initiatives.
The senator urged the conference to continue efforts that have made Vermont a national trend setter. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy ranked Vermont No. 1 of all states on electric energy efficiency.
Through Efficiency Vermont and town energy committees, Vermonters last year spent 3.7 cents per kilowatt hour to achieve energy efficiencies. It would have cost four times as much to generate the same amount of new power. “That means Vermont is saving energy and saving money, a real win-win,” Sanders said. Vermont last year met nearly 2 percent of its electric power demand through energy efficiency. If the nation did half as well, we could do without 190 medium-sized coal plants and save consumers nearly $80 billion over the next decade.
Vermont also is making headway on sustainable energy. Sanders said 45 schools are heated with biomass; geothermal energy heats and cools Champlain College, the Bennington Veterans Home, and at the Vietnam Memorial Rest Stop on I-89 in Sharon, and new farm methane, wind, biomass and solar projects are being developed throughout the state.
“I don’t have to tell you though, that we have more work to do, Sanders added. “We need to be more energy independent, less reliant on fossil fuel, and more reliant on local sustainable energy sources. Our vision for Vermont is to be a leader and a model for the rest of the nation in terms of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and creating jobs in energy efficiency and sustainable energy.”