BURLINGTON, Vt., May 17 - U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) delivered the keynote address today at a conference on a cutting-edge Vermont initiative to improve energy efficiency, save consumers money and create good-paying jobs.
Vermont was awarded $69 million in federal funds in 2009 to match an equal investment by the state's utilities to develop a more efficient and more reliable electric system. The so-called smart-grid project will make Vermont the first state in the nation to provide high-tech meters in virtually all businesses and homes. By 2013, real-time information on energy consumption will let consumers make smarter choices.
Sanders spoke at the conference hosted by the University of Vermont and Sandia National Laboratory, a world leader in energy research working with the state on implementation of the smart grid.
"I am excited about the partnership with the Sandia National Lab because of what that partnership can do to not only make us a leader in energy efficiency and sustainable energy but also in the process to create good-paying jobs for Vermonters," Sanders said afterward.
A member of the Senate energy committee, Sanders has been instrumental in persuading the New Mexico-based national energy lab to open a New England satellite center at the University of Vermont.
"This is a big deal. We have before us an extraordinary opportunity ... to be a leader for the nation," Sanders told the conference. "If we can pull off half of what I think we can, this will be a significant step forward."
A new Sandia-Vermont Center for Excellence would conduct advanced research that will bring the nation closer to energy self-sufficiency, increase energy efficiency, and develop a new green economy. This partnership will work with businesses and academic researchers to develop new technologies, new policies and new procedures.
"What Vermont offers Sandia, the Department of Energy, and the nation is a real-world model for this new research and technology," Sanders said.
"Over the long-term, this center will help create jobs and new educational opportunities for Vermont students and workers. It will make Vermont's and America's businesses more competitive both in the new technologies of the smart grid and locally distributed sustainable energy."