Sanders, Shumlin Announce Innovative Energy Initiative to Be Housed at UVM
- By Jeffrey R. Wakefield
Sen. Bernie Sanders and Gov. Peter Shumlin announced Monday a $15 million, three-year partnership with Sandia National Laboratories to establish a joint Center for Energy Transformation and Innovation to be housed at the University of Vermont.
"I am very proud to announce that we are bringing a very significant national lab presence to New England, by establishing the Center for Energy Transformation and Innovation right here in Vermont," Sanders said. "It is our goal that this Vermont/Sandia partnership will lead to a long-term national lab presence in Vermont, and that our state and the nation can benefit from the research conducted here for years to come."
"Vermont has served as a national leader on energy -- in electric efficiency programs, in small scale renewable generation contracts, in net metering policies, and in implementing smart grid technologies statewide," Shumlin said. "This partnership with Sandia National Laboratories will further Vermont's energy leadership, helping us coordinate and focus efforts to make the smart grid work here in Vermont, so that we can share our successes nationally to help build our 21st century energy infrastructure."
The senator and governor were joined at a press conference by Sandia National Laboratories vice president Rick Stulen, UVM interim president John Bramley, and Green Mountain Power Corp. chief executive officer Mary Powell.
“UVM is honored to provide a location for this exciting new center,” said Bramley. “Our faculty has worked closely with Sandia over the past year, and we expect that those ties will only become stronger under this new structure. This is a stellar example of a partnership between the public and private sectors, with higher education playing a critical role, just the sort of collaboration we need to make Vermont the leading edge of smart grid research, policy and implementation.”
The new entity will benefit from proximity and close ties to UVM's faculty and research infrastructure but will not be an official part of the university. The location of the center has not yet been determined.
Sanders said one focus of the new center will be energy efficiency, a field where Vermont already is a national leader. The center also will work on sustainable energy, economic development and the implementation of so-called smart grid technology that will make Vermont the first state in the nation to provide nearly all energy consumers greater control over their power consumption.
The seed was planted for a Vermont/Sandia partnership during a 2008 trip to the New Mexico research facility by Sanders, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Today there are 17 national labs in the United States (but none in New England) doing cutting-edge research, providing skilled jobs and generating an economic boost for local communities.
The center is a partnership between the state of Vermont, Sandia, UVM and other academic institutions, Vermont utility companies, Efficiency Vermont and many Vermont green businesses.
In addition to UVM, other academic institutions participating in the project include the Vermont State Colleges, Norwich University and Vermont Law School.
Participating utilities include Green Mountain Power, Central Vermont Public Service, Vermont Electric Power Co., the Burlington Electric Department, Vermont Electric Cooperative and the Washington Electric Cooperative.