LYNDONVILLE, Vt., Oct. 23 - U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today attended a ribbon cutting ceremony for a solar panel array at Lyndon State College.
The 5 kilowatt array helps meet campus electricity needs in a way that cuts greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. "But most importantly," the senator said, "this project provides an important learning opportunity for students who are interested in sustainable energy."
Lyndon State College President Joe Bertolino said the benefits are multi-faceted. "The hands-on experience these students gain is beyond measure."
The 24 photovoltaic panels were assembled and installed by LSC students as part of Dr. Ben Luce's Energy and Environment class. The project was partly funded by a grant secured by Sanders from the U.S. Department of Energy. "We are grateful to Sen. Sanders for helping us obtain the funding for this project, for his support of renewable energy in general, and very happy that he can come by to celebrate the system with us," Luce said.
The twin-array panels form part of an ongoing renewable energy program offered by the college. Students will monitor the production and performance of the solar panels with real-time data, incorporating the project into their classroom work. The possibility of a larger scale rooftop installation also is being explored.
"This project at Lyndon State College not only increases our use of solar," said Sanders. "It helps students engage directly with solar technology, and it demonstrates that solar works in Vermont." The arrays are located between the Alumni House and tennis courts on the LSC campus, a site chosen for energy capability, high visibility and ease of access. "This project is part of our efforts to transform our energy system in Vermont, and in this country, away from fossil fuels and to energy efficiency and sustainable energy," said Sanders.
Those efforts include solar installations in Vermont public schools, the installation of solar water heating in affordable housing across the state and a solar panel project undertaken by the Vermont National Guard that provides roughly 40 percent of their electricity and is one of largest national guard solar projects in the country. Sanders helped make each of those programs possible.