Saturday, March 28
BRATTLEBORO -- Brattleboro is in line to receive more than $55,000 in funding for projects to reduce energy use, limit fossil fuel emissions and improve energy efficiency.

The money is a portion of a $10.3 million block grant that is coming to the state for such projects, according to the office of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., which announced the grant.

"Helping states, cities and towns go forward with energy efficiency and sustainable energy projects will reduce carbon emissions, lower energy costs and create good-paying jobs," stated Sanders in a press release.

The director of Brattleboro's Cities for Climate Protection office said the money will help the town continue on its path to reducing its reliance on fossil fuels.

"This is a welcome source of funding for local projects to improve energy efficiency and expand the use of renewables, while reducing energy costs and carbon emissions," said Paul Cameron.

The town knew the money was coming, said Brattleboro Town Manager Barbara Sondag, but it didn't know when or how much.

"One of our first priorities is to see what how we can use it to fund some of the energy projects at the waste water treatment plant," she said.

There is a provision in the block grant program that allows the money to be used for energy generated using methane, which the town has been considering as an integral part of the plant's upgrade.

If the town doesn't use it for the treatment plant, said Sondag, it might apply the money to convert some streetlights to LEDs.


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Some of the money going to the state might also be available to Brattleboro, she said, but the town will have to apply and compete with other municipalities for the money.

"We are looking to patch some things together and take as much advantage as possible," Sondag said, who thanked Sanders for helping Brattleboro and other Vermont municipalities to achieve energy savings.

Other towns in southern Vermont that will receive money are Bennington, at $57,900, Hartford at $50,000 and Rutland at $78,900.

Burlington, at $180,000, and South Burlington, at $85,500, are the two biggest recipients at this point.

Of the $10.3 million, $4.8 million will go to the state to disburse to other municipalities around the state, according to the press release. The rest is earmarked for state projects.

Sanders stated that the grants may be used to update building codes to require construction of energy-efficient homes and businesses, retrofit old buildings with newer technology, experiment with alternative energy and create incentives for residents to car pool or ride buses.

The block grant program, which was pushed by Sanders, is part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, and is funded by the stimulus fund from the federal government.

Sanders is a member of the Senate Energy Committee and chairman of the Environment Committee's Green Jobs and New Economy Subcommittee.

Both the bill that created the block grant program and the successful effort to include funds for it in the economic recovery bill that Congress passed on February 13 were supported by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt.

"This grant is further proof that the federal stimulus package is rapidly directing much-needed recovery funds to towns like Brattleboro," said Welch, a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. "Investing in energy efficiency is the smart thing to do during difficult economic times. These funds will help create jobs, reduce energy costs and contribute to the fight against climate change."

Bob Audette can be reached at raudette@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.