America’s First Fully-Renewable Energy City – Burlington, Vermont

Science / Tech

Congratulations to Burlington, Vermont for doing something that no other city in the United States has done: Provide every single one of their 42,000 residents electricity via fully renewable methods.  A combination of primarily wind and hydroelectric power from a recently purchased plant near the edge of the city will provide more than enough power for the city.

While renewable energy won’t provide resident’s power at all times, under normal circumstances the combination of wind power and the recently purchased Winooski-1 Hydroelectric dam will generate enough energy that the city will be able to sell power back into the grid.  The plan is that they’ll sell more power than they’ll end up having to buy to cover less windy times.

The Associated Press spoke with representatives from the city who spoke of their plans over the last decade to reach this point.  In 2004 the idea may have seemed far-fetched, but by 2008 a clearer picture started coming into view.  The final piece of the puzzle was the 7.4-Megawatt Winooski-1 Hydroelectric facility.

Image Courtesy of the Burlington Free Press

Image Courtesy of the Burlington Free Press had some additional quotes from city representatives explaining how this move is not only good for the environment, but also for the city’s coffers:

“We’re now in a position where we’re supplying Burlington residents with sources that are renewable,” Ken Nolan, manager of power resources for Burlington Electric Department, told the Burlington Free Press. “The prices are not tied to fossil fuels — they’re stable prices — and they provide us with the flexibility, from an environmental standpoint, to really react to any regulation or changes to environmental standards that come in the future.”

It actually makes economic sense. Aside from the obvious environmental benefits, there is a long-term economic payoff as well. According to Burlington authorities, there won’t be any rate increases right now, and when the bonds for the city’s latest hydroelectric station are paid off, there will actually be cost savings in the future.

“A lot of times when you buy plants like this, you end up having to increase rates initially to drop them later,” Nolan said, “And we were able to buy it without any impact and then lock in the benefits in the future.”

Sounds like a pretty good deal for the residents in Burlington.  Far too many people don’t want to believe that climate change is real.  Maybe they can be persuaded to use cleaner energy when they see the potential savings available.

How would you like to live in a city powered by renewable energy?  Let us know in the comments or over on Google+, Facebook, or Twitter.

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