Montpelier Wins $8 Million Federal Energy Grant

WASHINGTON – The city of Montpelier will receive an $8 million grant for a wood-chip-fueled renewable energy project for the Statehouse and 175 other buildings in Vermont’s capital city, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) announced today.

The project will install a combined heat and power district energy system fueled with wood chips harvested locally. The city estimates that 35 total net new jobs will directly and indirectly be created within the project’s first year.

In addition to heating the Capitol complex and City Hall, the system will provide energy for up to 156 downtown buildings. By providing 1.8 million kilowatt hours of power to the grid, the system will maximize operating efficiency and reduce thermal costs for consumers. The project will be a public-private partnership between the city of Montpelier, the state of Vermont’s Department of Buildings and General Services, Veolia Energy and the Biomass Energy Resource Center. 

Sanders said, “This is a very exciting day for the city of Montpelier, for the state of Vermont and for all those people who have worked so hard on this project. This district energy project will make Vermont more energy independent, lower greenhouse gas emissions and create local jobs. It is a win-win situation and I very much appreciate the Department of Energy’s support for the project.”

Leahy said, “This award is yet another example of how Vermont continues to be a national leader when it comes to generating green energy.  Not only will this spur new investments in renewable energy, it will create the green jobs that will help revive Vermont’s economy.”  

Welch said, “With these well-deserved funds, Vermont furthers its impressive record of energy innovation. This exciting project will be a boon not just to residents of Montpelier, but to our state’s growing biomass energy industry.  By creating good, green jobs and cutting carbon emissions, the city of Montpelier will be a model for communities across Vermont and the country.”

Mayor Mary Hooper said, “The city has been working on creating this renewable energy project for over 15 years.  We are pleased that this has become a national funding priority.  We are delighted to be selected as one of only five projects being funded in the entire country.   This grant will make our dream become reality.   Congratulations and thanks are due to Planning Director Gwendolyn Hallsmith for her incredible work.”

The Montpelier project was one of five awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the stimulus bill Congress passed last year to jump start the economy.

The projects will promote investment in clean energy systems, create jobs, help communities provide long-term renewable energy, and save consumers money. They also will serve as models for other local governments, colleges and small utilities.

“We are very pleased to see the Department of Energy moving to include community scale CHP as part of our energy future,” said Christopher Recchia, executive director of the Biomass Energy Resource Center.  “District energy systems based on sustainable renewable biomass have significant potential to reduce our reliance on foreign oil, increase energy security and help our local economies and forests in the Northeast and elsewhere in the country.  We are excited to be a part of this project team that will bring a modern, efficient community heat and power system to Vermont’s Capitol.”     

“Smaller, more localized renewable energy systems need to play a role in our comprehensive energy portfolio," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “These projects will help create jobs, expand our clean energy economy, and help us cut carbon pollution at the local level.”

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