BURLINGTON, Vt., Oct. 22 – Vermont’s congressional delegation – Sens. Patrick Leahy (D) and Bernie Sanders (I) and Rep. Peter Welch (D) – announced today that the U.S. Department of Energy awarded more than $3 million in grants to two Vermont companies to help make solar energy more affordable and accessible.
“These Vermont companies are on the forefront of reducing the cost of solar energy, a crucial element in helping transform our energy system away from fossil fuels and into renewable energies,” the delegation said in a joint statement.
The Department of Energy awarded a $1 million grant to Faraday in Middlebury and $2.1 million to Norwich Technologies in White River Junction. These funds are part of more than $53 million awarded by the Energy Department to advance 40 research and development projects throughout the United States. The projects are designed to drive down the cost of solar energy and bring innovative ideas to the market more quickly.
These grants come five months after U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz traveled to Vermont in May to join Sanders, who serves on the Senate energy and environment committees, Leahy and Welch to learn first-hand how Vermont is leading the way in transforming our energy system from fossil fuels to renewable energies like solar, wind, geothermal and biomass.
“We have great news from the Department of Energy today, that two Vermont innovators, Faraday and Norwich Technologies, are receiving a combined federal investment of over $3 million to advance American solar energy manufacturing and continue to drive down solar costs,” said Gov. Peter Shumlin. “I congratulate these two companies on their grants, and thank Secretary Moniz for his continued support of Vermont's clean energy sector. I also greatly appreciate the focus of our federal delegation, Sen. Leahy, Sen. Sanders, and Congressman Welch, who are strong advocates for the Department of Energy's partnerships with Vermont.”
Faraday is developing a $2 million map-driven tool to identify where solar arrays could be most effectively deployed. The Middlebury company’s Energy Department grant will cover half of the cost of its project.
“Acquiring a solar customer today is five times more expensive than for other home upgrades,” said Robbie Adler, president of Faraday. The delegation noted that Faraday is another bright spot in the growing number of tech companies that call Vermont home. They have used the incubator space and seed capital deployed by the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies, which Leahy helped establish and grow. Adler continued: “The SunShot award allows us to apply powerful Faraday technology to this important challenge. We’re honored to have been selected by the Energy Department and grateful to Secretary Moniz for his ongoing support of the remarkable SunShot program.”
Norwich Technologies received two grants. The first of which is a $677,504 grant to further develop a “trough mirror” that will help enhance the effectiveness of large-scale solar installations. The grant covers 80 percent of the project’s cost.
The White River Junction company also received a $1,391,548 grant award to cover half the cost of bringing the receiver components of its innovative solar design from prototype to a system than can be manufactured in a cost-effective way. This second grant to Norwich Technologies is part of a package of grants awarded to 10 U.S.-based solar manufacturers to support advancements to reduce the cost of solar energy.