Vermont, Leading the Way on Energy

Vermont continues to help lead the nation toward a clean energy future. As a follow-up to U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz’s visit to Vermont in May, Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Danielson traveled to Vermont earlier this month to continue the discussion with Vermont’s clean energy leaders about how to link local projects with Energy Department funds. The goal: to help Vermont stay on the forefront of transforming its energy system from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

During the early September workshop held at Vermont Energy Investment Corporation in Burlington, Danielson shared details about existing competitive funding opportunities within the U.S. Department of Energy.  Danielson also encouraged Vermonters to think about ways to partner with the Energy Department’s national laboratories.  This system of labs conducts research on a range of topics, from clean energy technologies to climate security.

One lab, Sandia National Laboratories, is already conducting research in Vermont. Thanks to a partnership spearheaded by Sen. Bernie Sanders between Sandia, IBM, the Department of Energy and the state of Vermont, progress is being made. The Regional Test Center in Williston recently installed a series of solar panels and will soon be analyzing data on how well different panels perform in a cold-weather climate.  Other partnerships with the U.S. Energy Department have led to the biomass heating system in Montpelier, and the new Stafford Hill solar and battery storage project in Rutland.

More than 50 attendees participated the Sept. 3 energy workshops—representing utilities, state government, renewable energy businesses, and nonprofits.  Breakout discussion sessions provided an opportunity for Energy Department specialists and state energy leaders to explore topics of interest to Vermonters – such as cold-climate heat pumps, methane digesters, energy-efficient manufactured housing, and deep energy retrofits. 

Sanders, who serves as member of the Senate energy and environmental committees, addressed the workshop participants at the start of the day. The senator also joined Danielson, Rep. Peter Welch, and Gov. Peter Shumlin for a tour of a high-performance mobile home.  This demonstration unit highlights the Manufactured Housing Innovation Project, a collaboration between the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and Efficiency Vermont.  The units are manufactured by Vermod, based in Wilder, Vermont. 

In the Senate, Sanders has introduced bold legislation with Sen. Barbara Boxer that would tax carbon and methane emissions, and put substantial sums into energy efficiency and sustainable energy.  He has also introduced “Ten Million Solar Roofs” legislation that would help spread the adoption of solar energy.

“The simple truth is: Global warming is real and is already causing massive devastation in the United States and throughout the world. If we do not act boldly and quickly, these problems will only get much worse in the years to come,” said Sanders.

Danielson applauded Vermont for the state’s bold vision for a clean energy future and he urged Vermonters to stay engaged with the Department of Energy.