The Vermont Clean Energy Investment Summit was hosted by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Governor Peter Shumlin and the state Department of Public Service. Senator Sanders says it’s part of continuing efforts to make Vermont a leader in sustainable and renewable energy.
The focus of speakers and panelists was financial investment in the renewable energy sector. Key financial incentives from Congress have or are about to expire. Panel experts said loss of the Production Tax Credit for wind could lead to job lay offs and potential development suspensions. The 1603 tax equity financing program had supported 13.5 gigawatts of new renewable energy projects. Private sector financing is also a challenge. U.S. Department of Energy Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Energy Richard Kauffman says while there is great potential for the clean energy sector, a clear problem is the anachronistic method projects are financed.
One of the success stories in propagating renewable installations is the Vermont National Guard.
The Guard has installed a 1.44 megawatt solar field, has buildings using biomass and plans for a biomass co-generation plant. New buildings are designed to use geothermal and the Vermont Guard is converting other facilities to geothermal. Adjutant General Michael Dubie says he has become a convert to the benefits of renewable energy.
Senator Sanders says it comes down to bringing all sectors, including homeowners, in as stakeholders.
Discussion included an “on-bill financing” concept that would allow homeowners and businesses to obtain upfront funds from utilities or lenders for upgrades.