The Vermont National Guard has installed one of the largest solar photovoltaic arrays in the state at its South Burlington base.
At 1.5-megawatts, the solar installation will reduce carbon emissions by 236 tons per year and save the military branch $250,000 a year, about 40 percent of its energy bill. This is part of an overall effort by the U.S. military to meet a U.S. Defense Department mandate to use renewable energy for 25 percent of its demands by 2025.
Maj. Gen. Michael Dubie wasn’t enthusiastic about the project when it was first pitched to him two years ago by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. In Dubie’s mind, the $8.5 million allocated for the solar installation would take away from procurement and equipment needed to keep his National Guard troopers safe and effective in Afghanistan and other volatile areas around the world.
But Maj. Gen. Dubie eventually saw the benefits of the project. He now believes that the more the U.S. can begin to rely on renewable energy production at home, the less the country will depend on foreign sources to meet our energy demands, thereby decreasing the number of military conflicts around the world.
Interviewed in the Burlington Free Press, Maj. Gen. Dubie, “The very people who supply us with oil hate us. The less we have to depend on people who hate us, the less need we have to get involved.”
Sen. Sanders became interested in a solar installation for the South Burlington base after seeing a successful array in Nevada. He believes federal investments like the one for the National Guard base are necessary to further solar developments in the U.S. He hopes, by investing in renewable technology like solar on military bases, Vermont will send a “very, very strong message to the entire country” about the United States’ commitment to renewable energy.