Sanders, Energy Co-Op kick off solar hot water program

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, above, spoke at Co-op Solar’s 2013 program launch on Feb. 4 at Sunward System’s new headquarters in Shelburne.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, above, spoke at Co-op Solar’s 2013 program launch on Feb. 4 at Sunward System’s new headquarters in Shelburne.

Vermont’s political representatives, including Senator Bernie Sanders, Andrew Perchlik from the Department of Public Service and CEDF, Tom Berry from Sen. Leahy’s office, Jon Copans from Congressman Welch’s office, and David Blittersdorf, CEO of AllEarth Renewables, joined members of the Energy Co-op of Vermont at Sunward Systems’ brand new Shelburne headquarters to announce the launch of the 2013 Co-op Solar program Monday, Feb. 4. The innovative solar hot water program leverages the energy of the sun and the power of local partnerships to help Vermonters save money and help the environment by going solar.

“What is particularly exciting about this program is that people can move in this direction without spending any more money on their fuel bills than they currently are, because they’re going to pay off their loan from the credit union by reduced fuel costs.  That is exactly the right direction to go,” said Senator Sanders in his opening remarks. 

By partnering with a local manufacturer of the solar hot water heating equipment, Co-op Solar offers deeply discounted systems that are assembled in Vermont.  Further savings come from a 30 percent federal tax credit and a state incentive of up to $1,200, resulting in up to 50 percent off the typical cost. “These new solar hot water systems will pay for themselves through energy savings,” said John Quinney, general manager at the Energy Co-op. 

Congressman Welch’s Deputy State Director Jon Copans commented, “This collaboration between Sunward Systems and the Energy Co-op of Vermont is exactly the kind of story he’s planning to bring down to Congress. The product is being assembled here in Vermont by a Vermonter. Then we have jobs to install that product on people’s homes. We’re saving Vermonters money on their energy bill. And finally, we’re reducing our fossil fuel use and our greenhouse gas emissions. So it really is a win-win-win situation here in Vermont.”  

With the costs of fossil fuels continuing to rise, solar hot water systems can save a typical, four-person household, thousands of dollars in the uncertain years ahead. Co-op Solar systems can be financed through local credit unions and banks, which helps to make the program accessible to just about anyone. Certified local contractors install the solar hot water heating systems, usually in less than a day. “It may be the best investment you can make for your home and planet,” said Quinney. 

The program has been expanded for 2013 and is open to any home or business owner within the service territory of the Energy Co-op of Vermont. The Co-op Solar program runs through April 30, though state incentive funds may run out sooner. Interested participants can sign up for a free, no obligation site assessment to see how much they can save by going solar. The online sign up form and additional information can be found at

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