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Public Post is a community reporting initiative using digital tools to report on cities and towns across Vermont.Public Post is the only resource that lets you browse and search documents across dozens of Vermont municipal websites in one place.Follow reporter Amy Kolb Noyes and #PublicPost on Twitter and read news from the Post below.

Next Generation Solar Starts Here

Vermont Electric Cooperative
Vermont Electric Coop CEO David Hallquist, Vermont Public Service Department Commissioner Christopher Recchia and Governor Peter Shumlin announced a new solar initiative in Montpelier on Monday.
"Vermont is leading the way, piloting solar options that will enable consumer-members to take advantage of cheaper solar panels without compromising safety or reliability." - Jo Ann Emerson, CEO, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

Vermont Electric Cooperative, along with 14 other cooperative utilities, is taking part in a $4.8 million project aimed at standardizing utility-scale solar projects to bring the cost of solar in line with less sustainable energy sources.

Vermont Electric Coop CEO David Hallquist made the announcement this week, along with Gov. Peter Shumlin and officials from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

Governor Shumlin commented, “This is exactly the kind of innovation we need as Vermont leads the country in renewable energy development.  We’re helping to address climate change, creating jobs and spurring economic development, and helping to bring down the cost of solar power in our state and across the country. This project is a win on all fronts.”

The majority of the project will be funded through the U.S. Department of Energy's  SunShot Initiative, a national collaborative effort to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of electricity by the end of the decade. The Department of Energy's $3.6 million investment will be matched by $1.2 million from participating utility groups.

The project goals include:

  • Standardized engineering designs to minimize design and engineering costs
  • A volume purchasing program through NRECA’s National Discounts Program
  • A series of pre-packaged business plans and financing options through the Cooperative Finance Corporation
  • A tailored insurance package
  • Reduced labor costs, targeting a 25 percent reduction
  • Extensive outreach and training

“Vermont is leading the way, piloting solar options that will enable consumer-members to take advantage of cheaper solar panels without compromising safety or reliability,” said National Rural Electric Cooperative Association CEO Jo Ann Emerson.
According to Vermont Electric Cooperative, cooperatively owned utility scale solar projects will particularly benefit customers whose homes are not properly sited for solar installations, those who rent their homes or office spaces or customers who would like to purchase solar panels but can’t afford the investment to install on-site.

Amy is an award winning journalist who has worked in print and radio in Vermont since 1991. Her first job in professional radio was at WVMX in Stowe, where she worked as News Director and co-host of The Morning Show. She was a VPR contributor from 2006 to 2020.
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