In the renewable energy world, Vermont is basically the poster child for sustainability.
Its state government has been environmentally conscious for well over a decade.
Last week, it was able to announce its biggest accomplishment thus far. Burlington, the largest city in Vermont, now receives 100 percent of its electricity from completely renewable sources.
Most of the city is supplied by a combination of wind turbine-generated energy and energy harvested from hydroelectric dams. The recent purchase of a 7.4 megawatt facility on the Winooski River was, in fact, the final push for the completion of the 100 percent goal in Burlington. Solar energy is not a large player in Burlington’s electricity supply, but Vermont is beginning to make moves in that direction.
Not only is this accomplishment incredibly environmentally healthy, but it also is a major victory against critics of renewable energy.
Complete independence from fossil fuels has been achieved in other parts of the country, such as Greensburg, Kansas, however, Greensburg and other similar communities are typically comprised of fewer than 1,000 residents. The population of Burlington is about 42,000 people. Up to this point, many believed that total independence could never be possible for large towns, much less entire cities.
Granted, Burlington is not on the same level as New York City, Philadelphia or Boston, but its ability to go completely green is evidence that many large communities, towns and small cities, like Scranton, could also successfully go green.
This effort to reach 100 percent renewability in Burlington was the result of nearly a decade of planning.
“The transition in thought from 2004 to 2008 was ‘We want to do this’ to ‘This actually makes economic sense for us to do this’,” said Ken Nolan, the manager of power resources for Burlington Electric, according to an article from www.newsobserver.com.
Vermont has not only been able to prove that 100 percent independence from fossil fuels is possible, but that it is also economically advantageous.
The state has been able to make the transition in a cost-effective manner and is even able to generate revenue from the initiative.
When more energy is harvested than is needed by the community, the energy is sold to other utility companies to supply customers with electricity. The entire state of Vermont aims to be 90 percent independent from the use of fossil fuels for electricity, heating/cooling and transportation by 2050.
The state is investing heavily in solar energy harvesting, having just completed a large project to cover a landfill with a 2.7 megawatt solar installation.
For most of the foreseeable future, Vermont plans to continue to invest and build toward its long-term goal of statewide independence from fossil fuels.