SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt., Oct. 1 - U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Maj. Gen. Michael Dubie, the Vermont National Guard commander, today marked completion of one of the largest solar installations in Vermont and one of the largest solar projects on any National Guard base in the country.
The chairman of the Senate Green Jobs Subcommittee, Sanders helped secure $8.5 million to make the base here one of the greenest in the United States and a model for other guard installations around the country. "I am very appreciative and proud of what General Dubie and the Vermont National Guard have accomplished in constructing this solar project. The U.S. military is the largest consumer of energy in the world, and the Vermont National Guard is now playing a significant role in becoming a model for the Department of Defense as it moves toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy," Sanders said.
The project will help reduce reliance on foreign oil, help the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and help the economy by creating jobs and saving taxpayers' money, Sanders said. This project will produce 1.5 megawatts of clean energy, save the Vermont National Guard nearly $250,000 per year in energy costs, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the base by about 236 tons per year.
From an energy independence standpoint, the Defense Department has set an aggressive target of meeting 25 percent of its electricity needs with renewable energy by 2025, a goal the Vermont solar project will help achieve. The military today spends billions a year on energy and transportation fuel costs.
From the vantage point of the environment and climate change, the Pentagon has been a strong voice in recognizing the need to address global warming. Military analysts recognize that climate change could aggravate instability around the world and drain military resources in the event of natural disasters and humanitarian crises.
With regard to jobs and the economy, the solar industry workforce has more than doubled since 2009, growing from 46,000 workers to more than over 100,000 today. At the same time, the price of solar installations continues to drop, by nearly 20 percent last year alone.