How one city in Vermont is making renewable energy history.
Years after setting in place policy that promotes energy independence, Burlington, Vermont now runs entirely on renewable power.
How did it achieve this remarkable goal? Through dedication to environmental and financial sustainability. As Taylor Ricketts, Professor of Environmental Science at the University of Vermont, points out:
There’s nothing magic about Burlington in terms of where it sits. It’s not a lot windier here, or a lot more rivers here, and certainly not a lot sunnier here than lots of parts of the U.S. It was just a bunch of decisions made over ten years or more, to get towards renewable energy.
Although the environmental benefits of renewable power are well-known, the city pursued a clean energy agenda primarily due to the financial benefits.
“[O]ur financial analysis at that time indicated to our– actually, to our surprise– that the cheapest long term financial investment for us with the least amount of risk was to move in this direction,” said Ken Nolan of Burlington Electric.
The city– the largest in Vermont– estimates that it will save $20 million dollars in 20 years.
Burlington uses biomass, solar, wind, and hydro power. Critics continue to push for the city to utilize newer, greener hydro plants. Learn more:
Vermont isn’t known for its sunny climes– so why has Burlington invested in solar power? PBS’ William Brangham explains:
Vermont’s iconic, multi-million dollar industries — skiing and maple syrup — are as dependent on the climate as any industry in the U.S. And the state suffered hundreds of millions of dollars in damage from Hurricane Irene — the type of storm scientists say will grow in frequency unless we reduce our consumption of fossil fuels.
How would your city benefit from transitioning to clean, reliable, renewable energy?