Green Mountain Solar: Part of the solution to achieving 40% nationwide clean energy by 2035

Blog piece from VBSR member Green Mountain Solar:

Vermonters never turn away from a good challenge, so when President Biden announced his national target renewable energy goal to increase from the current 5% to 40% by 2035, the Green Mountain state’s ears perked.

According to the recent Solar futures study produced by the U.S. Department of Energy, solar energy has the capacity to produce 40% of the country’s power and create 1.5 million jobs. The study also found that every single home nationwide could be powered with solar within the next 14 years.

Yes, you read that right.

Biden’s ambitious national goal means that each state needs to promote local solar projects and incentivize renewable energy as a cost-effective alternative to fossil fuels.

As Vermonters, we need to maintain pressure on the transition away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy. When we embrace clean energy, we keep our energy assets local, we create jobs right here in-state, and we conserve our natural environment—the reason many people come to live here in the first place. Vermont has been a trailblazer for being green in the U.S., but now is not the time to rest on our reputation. We should push it forward and raise the bar for the country.

And the cherry on top: it would not raise electricity costs. Quite the opposite— from 2014 through 2019, solar saved Vermont $79 million according to the Synapse Energy Economics study produced in late 2020. If not for local solar, electricity rates would have been higher for everyone. The decrease in demand from the grid then leads to a lower cost of electricity for all consumers because there is no longer a need to run the most expensive types of fossil fuel power plants.

For those who install solar, it is an investment. Customers get high efficiency panels, quality inverters, a racking system, real time monitoring—not to mention the thoughtful and skilled team support throughout the whole project. But, like any investment, there is also a tangible return. “When people go solar, they are directly investing in their future,” says Marcus Shapiro, Senior Solar Advisor at Green Mountain Solar. “A long-term investment that adds value to your home, saves you money on electricity, protects you against utility rate hikes—which are never on a downward trend and cleans up the grid. What other investment can do that for Vermonters?”

In the executive summary, the Solar Futures study states, “A dramatically larger role for solar in decarbonizing the U.S. electricity system, and energy system more broadly, is within reach, but it is only possible through concerted policy and regulatory efforts as well as sustained advances in solar and other clean energy technologies.” This type of action plan is not one where hesitancy will benefit Vermonters.

The sooner Vermonters embrace solar, the faster it propels the state toward reaching the 90% local renewable energy by 2050 goal as set by the comprehensive energy plan back in 2016. Imagine 90% of our renewable energy generated right here in our state, not imported across state or country borders. Imagine exceeding our energy goals, strengthening our local economy and communities, and supporting working Vermonters. Empowering Vermont’s future with solar is in the best interest of us all.