Sen. Bernie Sanders and the head of the Environmental Protection Agency say the Vermont National Guard is a national model for what other military bases can do to cut their reliance on fossil fuels and become less dependent on foreign oil.
Sanders and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson toured a solar power installation Thursday at the Air Guard Base in South Burlington.
The project was completed in October of last year after Sanders, as chair of the Senate Green Jobs Subcommittee, helped to secure $8.5 million to build it. Today, the 1.45-megawatt project is one of the largest solar installations at any Guard base in the country.
Sanders says that, although the U.S. Defense Department is the leading consumer of energy in the world, Vermont’s National Guard has taken the lead in embracing new, locally-produced technology.
"This project supported jobs for Vermont solar businesses and installers and used panels made in the United States of America," Sanders said, standing in front of panels that use solar trackers. "The Vermont National Guard deserves national recognition as a model of what we can accomplish at military bases in this country in terms of sustainable energy."
The solar project at the Vermont Air Guard’s base is expected to save hundreds of thousands of dollars annually on the Guard’s energy bills, and provide up to 40 percent of energy needs at the base.
In the last three months, the Guard says the project saved more than $82,000 dollars on its electric bill.
Those savings motivate the EPA’s Lisa Jackson.
"It is inspiring to see the marriage of so many concepts that we talk about so often in this place – in this very quiet place," Jackson said, a few yards away from an inverter station. "Except for the inverters that are running over there, you wouldn’t realize how transformative this is."
Jackson says the EPA will continue to work with the Department of Defense to help make military bases more sustainable and cut greenhouse gas emissions.