Energy efficiency and conservation grants totaling $5.8 million were awarded this week to 147 schools, towns, and cities across Vermont. About $3.2 billion in economic stimulus funds nationwide will be used to create jobs while moving the country toward energy independence and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Senator Bernie Sanders, a member of the Senate energy and environment committees and chairman of the Green Jobs and New Economy Subcommittee, authored a provision in the 2007 energy bill which created the block grants program in the U.S. Department of Energy.
In Vermont, the economic stimulus funds were distributed to the state through an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants program. The Vermont Department of Public Service and the state Clean Energy Development Fund reviewed applications and recommended the recipients.
"I want to thank the individuals in hundreds of communities around Vermont who have participated in this process and who are determined to do everything they can to help make our state and country more energy independent and more energy efficient," Sanders said. "From an economic perspective, and as chairman of the green jobs subcommittee, I happen to believe that, over a long-term period, breaking our dependency on fossil fuels and moving to energy efficiency and such sustainable energies as wind, solar, biomass and geothermal can create millions of good paying jobs," he added.
"I helped write the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants program because I believe that it is absolutely imperative that we involve citizens at the grassroots level in this effort. We want and need the thinking of people at the local level as to how they can move their cities and towns forward in this area because they know the needs of their towns, schools and public buildings better than anyone else - and this legislation gives them the flexibility to prioritize how these federal funds should be spent.
"The projects announced today will address a wide range of local priorities, including making schools and municipal buildings more energy efficient, installing innovative renewable energy systems such as geothermal at the Sutton School District, and helping localities as they seek to make renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements accessible to homeowners. We should be extremely proud, as Vermonters, that our state is leading the nation in energy efficiency. For several years now, we have been able to reduce our electricity use through efficiency, making Vermont an example for other states.
"At a time when we spend as a nation, in a typical year, $350 billion importing oil from foreign nations, we cannot afford to ignore the low hanging fruit of energy efficiency. Energy efficiency offers a win-win-win because it saves energy, creates jobs, and saves Vermont consumers millions every year," Sanders said.
For the list of which schools, towns and cities received grants and how much they received, click here.
Previous grants were distributed to counties through regional planning commissions and directly to Vermont's 10 largest municipalities.