RANDOLPH CENTER, Vt., June 9 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) held a Vermont Energy Resource Fair and Town Meeting Saturday at Vermont Technical College in Randolph Center to discuss how Vermonters can make their homes and businesses more efficient and to help Vermonters determine what type of renewable energy works best for their needs.
More than 300 people from throughout the state joined Sanders for the town meeting, which featured May Boeve, executive director of 350.org, as the guest keynote speaker. Boeve founded the climate justice group with Vermonter Bill McKibben. “Communities all over the world are going fossil free,” Boeve said, noting they are committing to a 100 percent renewable energy future.
“The bottom line is this: Our job is to think big. If we are serious about addressing the global challenge of climate change, it is going to take millions of people coming together and demanding bold policies to transform our energy system,” said Sanders, who serves on both the Senate energy and environment committees. “It is going to take people organizing at the grassroots level and taking action in their communities. And it is going to take people adopting these technologies themselves, in their homes and businesses. And that is why we are here today.”
Dozens of presenters and co-sponsoring exhibitors were on hand to help connect Vermonters with financing options and the latest energy technologies, including heat pumps, solar energy, electric vehicles, energy efficiency and weatherization. The Energy Resource Fair also included a whole-home efficiency make-over trailer, a Vermont-built net-zero modular home, a wood pellet boiler demo and a solar tracker.
“Whether you are motivated by fighting climate change, or if you simply want to save money on your energy bills, these kinds of investments make good sense,” Sanders said.
Olivia Campbell Andersen, executive director of Renewable Energy Vermont, joined Sanders on the panel during the town meeting portion of the event. Renewable Energy Vermont is a nonprofit which represents a wide range of Vermont renewable energy service providers.
“Extensive renewable electricity, heating and vehicle choices are available today to help Vermonters save money and take climate action. We hope all of our neighbors will join the energy independence revolution,” Andersen said. “Senator Sanders’ energy fair has made it easier to ask questions and connect with local tradesmen and women, your neighbors, and other resources to help folks benefit from clean energy solutions for their homes, community and workplaces.”
“Making smart and cost effective energy choices helps Vermonters live more comfortably and lower their energy costs,” Andersen said. “Stepping up our use of local clean energy solutions is also imperative for our community and climate health.”
Efficiency Vermont and VSECU credit union also had representatives on the panel, highlighting energy efficiency and financing options available to Vermonters.
“This event opened my eyes to the fact that there are opportunities for people, no matter what their income level is. That’s the message that is so important. I never saw energy efficiency as an investment. If low-income people know of these opportunities, we could make a huge difference for our environment,” said Gail Billings of Randolph. “I’m very glad I came.”