RANDOLPH CENTER, Vt., February 18 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today announced the launch of an innovative biomass energy project at Vermont Technical College.
A wood pellet boiler will serve both as a practical heating source for a building on the college campus and as an invaluable hands-on learning tool for students interested in the growing field of renewable energy jobs.
Sanders, chairman of the Senate Green Jobs and the New Economy Subcommittee, secured $184,995 in federal funding for the project through the U.S. Department of Energy. Vermont Technical College will provide an additional $55,865.
Sanders said the project is part of an effort he and others around the state are making “to transform Vermont’s energy system so that we can become more energy independent, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and create good-paying local jobs. As we move forward toward improved energy efficiency through wind, solar, and geothermal energy, we also must understand the importance of biomass.”
Vermont Technical College President Ty Handy said, “Vermont Tech is excited about bringing this renewable energy source on campus and, through its Bachelor of Science degree in Sustainable Design and Technology, helping students prepare for careers in this vital and emerging field.”
The funding will establish a wood pellet boiler to heat the Red Schoolhouse building on the campus. The building is now served by the college’s central heating system, an outdated furnace which consumes 3,000 gallons of heating oil every year. The new boiler will be purchased from Waitsfield, Vermont-based Sunwood Systems.
The new boiler will allow Vermont Technical College students to test other forms of biomass fuel to better understand which fuels work best and grow best in certain environments. These experiments will utilize various energy grasses grown on campus by the college’s Dairy Farm Management and Diversified Agriculture program.