Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Local renewable industry poised to make ‘Vermont energy strong’

Montpelier, Vermont…February 9, 2012…

Vermont’s local renewable energy industry— made up of diverse manufacturers, construction contractors, installers, developers, and suppliers— announced today the industry is equipped to help make “Vermont energy strong” in the 21st Century.

The industry, which ranges from local fabricators assembling electrical boards and contractors that specialize in hot water, solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and biomass heating installations to regional and international manufacturers of innovative renewable energy technologies, held a press conference on pending policy issues today in Montpelier.

“The benefits of a strong renewable industry flow throughout the state by creating local jobs, producing energy locally, and providing energy security,” said Gabrielle Stebbins, Executive Director of Renewable Energy Vermont (REV), the state trade association representing more than 300 renewables and efficiency businesses in the state.  “Growing our own renewable energy in-state is in keeping with Vermonters’ desire for self-reliance, a clean energy future that leaves a better legacy for our children, and keeping our dollars local.”

“The industry is ready, willing, and able to both kick-start Vermont’s economy and make ‘Vermont energy strong’ in the 21st Century,” said REV Chair, Martha Staskus.  “We are extremely grateful for the Governor’s strong support for assuring Vermont doesn’t miss out on the ‘energy revolution’ and for his commitment to expand Vermont’s innovative Standard Offer program in his recent State of the State address. The many diverse businesses and workers of our industry stand with him and we’re ready to get to work.”

The industry highlighted three policies being considered by the legislature and supported by Governor Shumlin critical to the growth of the industry:

1) Expanding Vermont’s Standard Offer program, which provides predictability to local, distributed renewable energy generation.  The group is calling for the program to be expanded beyond its initial 50MW, yielding new jobs, producing local clean energy, and bringing private financial support to local industry.  A strong Standard Offer is the most effective method for meeting strong renewable portfolio goals.

2) Funding Vermont’s Clean Energy Development Fund (CEDF), which is expected to run out of money by mid-year.  A 2011 report by Kavet, Rockler & Associates, LLC found that every $1 invested by the CEDF resulted in $4 in private capital investment.  Since 2006 alone, it has leveraged grants, tax credits, and loans into $110 million in privately funded project expenditures.  The successes of this program are threatened without a new revenue source and the industry is advocating for sustainable funding for this effective economic development tool.  Proposals in both the House and Senate Natural Resource Committees, spearheaded by Chair Tony Klein and Rep. Allison Clarkson, and Chair Lyons and Senator Campbell, would tax nuclear storage, a past-funding source for the CEDF.
3) Assuring quick passage of technical corrections to Vermont’s successful net metering program, which makes minor technical changes to 2011’s Act 47.  Net metering in Vermont has allowed homes, businesses, schools, farms, and non-profits to harness their own energy.  Act 47 improved this successful program and H.475, which makes minor changes to that law, passed the house in late January. This bill should be fast-tracked in the Senate and signed by the Governor by Town Meeting Day.

“When we’re manufacturing or installing solar locally, we’ve activated an entire supply chain of work throughout the state. This includes electrical board fabrication in Bristol and Springfield, metal workers from Rutland County and Lyndon, and electricians and contractors from Williston.  The renewable energy industry in this state is vast and it is growing.  With the right policies today, we can lead a more economic and energy secure future for this state,” said Andrew Savage, a member of AllEarth Renewables’ management team.

“The stable funding of the CEDF helps support a vibrant, cost-effective solar hot water, solar, and wind energy industry in this state.  It’s leveraging dollars to give homeowners and businesses the investment in energy independence and creating good local installation and manufacturing jobs,” said Tom Hughes, CEO of Sunward Systems.

Chad Farrell, founder of Encore Redevelopment, added “We have built a business here in Vermont around the opportunities associated with an energy transition and Vermont’s early leadership in this burgeoning marketplace. A robust continuation of the Standard Offer program is vital for Vermont to keep pace with our neighbors in the development of additional sources of clean, distributed renewable energy generation to support our economy and in order to continue to provide jobs, tax revenue and energy security for our state.”

“By supporting in-state renewable energy, Vermont gets jobs, economic development and intellectual capital. Northern Power directly employs more than 100 people. We sell in Vermont and export to the world. We buy from more than 350 Vermont companies. They supply steel, financial services, electrical parts, engineering services, metal fabrication and machining, welding supplies, crane services, marketing and media, legal, lodging and meeting space – a wide range of Vermont businesses stand behind us every day,” added James Jennings, global director of repower business at Northern Power Systems.

“Although having had discussions with New York and New Hampshire, I was drawn to choose Rutland as the location for the WEbiomass Wood Pellet Boiler manufacturing facility, in large part due to the forward-thinking renewable policies of Vermont and the direct assistance of the Department of Commerce & Economic Development. The opportunities for job creation via a sustainable approach to the use of our forest resources for heating Vermonters homes, schools and other businesses are impressive: According to a Biomass Energy Resource Center study, if Vermont were to convert only 18.5% of its homes and businesses from heating oil to locally produced biomass fuels used in modern, efficiency boilers, it could create about 7,000 stable local energy jobs.,” says George Robbins, President of WEbiomass Inc.

In addition to traditional renewable energy companies and member-businesses of Renewable Energy Vermont, the industry representatives emphasized how broad and diverse Vermont’s renewable energy industry is.  Companies like Demag Cranes, J.A. Morrissey Inc, Engineers Construction Inc. (ECI), Grennon’s Solder Works, Image-Tek, Northeast Prevision, Rennline, S.D. Ireland Concrete are among the many hundreds of businesses engaged in work and creating or sustaining jobs as a result of a strong local renewable energy economy.

Gabrielle Stebbins
Renewable Energy Vermont
802 595 5373

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