Vermont’s leading environmental organizations joined forces Tuesday to highlight the many environmental and economic benefits solar power provides to Vermonters. The event took place at Crossett Brook Middle School in Duxbury, where participants highlighted Vermont’s recent successes bringing clean and low-cost solar power to many homes and businesses.
Vermonters’ enthusiastic embrace of solar energy continues to advance the state’s green energy economy. There are now more than 58 solar companies based in Vermont, employing more than 1,500 people, and contributing more than 76 million dollars last year to Vermont’s economy. The 138 MW of solar energy currently installed or permitted in Vermont is enough to power more than 22,000 homes while reducing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking nearly 14,000 cars off the road per year.
A large majority of Vermont residents support the continued development of local renewable energy. A 2014 statewide poll found that 86% of Vermonters support the state’s goal of getting to 90% of it power from renewable sources by 2050.
Solar power makes sense for Vermont. The cost of solar power has declined more than 30% in the last year. Solar panels can attach to rooftops, industrial sites, or be placed on open land. By providing power at times when it is most needed, increasing our reliance on solar helps reduce costs for all electric customers. Since solar power is generated close to where it is used, increasing our reliance on solar also reduces our need for expensive new transmission projects to bring power to Vermont from faraway places.
“We’re here today in support of Vermont’s energy independence. Clean energy is our future, and we want to make our support very clear to the tens of thousands of Vermonters who want to see more clean power coming from the sun,” said Paul Burns, executive director of VPIRG.
“The era of meeting our electricity needs from far-flung, dirty power plants in someone else’s backyard is over. Vermont has a responsibility and a tremendous opportunity to generate local clean solar power here at home,” said VNRCs Energy Program Director Johanna Miller. “We can also do so in a way that respects communities and natural resources.”
“Solar power is a common sense solution for Vermont. Tapping into the free fuel provided by the sun every day to produce electricity saves money and reduces pollution,” said Sandra Levine, Senior Attorney with the Conservation Law Foundation.
“With record-breaking global temperatures, wildfires raging out West, and other devastating impacts of global warming being felt across the planet, the majority of Vermonters agree: it’s time to ramp up our commitment to clean, green solar power,” said Lauren Hierl, political director of Vermont Conservation Voters.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported last week that this July saw the highest average temperatures globally since record keeping began. The first seven months of the year also had all-time highs. Just in the past two weeks, we’ve seen the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the 4th anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene, and California and the Pacific Northwest are battling some of the deadliest wildfires in history.