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Clean Power burlingtonvt

Published on September 23rd, 2014 | by Jake Richardson


100% Renewable Energy For Burlington, VT

September 23rd, 2014 by  

These news stories about cities producing most or all of their energy from renewable sources are the feel-good stories of the year.

Wind, water and biomass are providing all of Burlington’s electricity, and this city is the largest in Vermont. So, critics can’t say, “It’s just a little village, probably has 800 people, that’s not feasible anywhere else.” However, the population of Burlington is about 42,000. It’s not a large city by any means, but it also is not a tiny town where adding some solar and one wind turbine would cover everyone’s electricity.


Actually, it was the purchase of a 7.4 MW hydroelectric facility on the Winooski River that put Burlington at 100% renewable electricity. Christopher Recchia, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Service, “It shows that we’re able to do it, and we’re able to do it cost effectively in a way that makes Vermonters really positioned well for the future.”

It’s not surprising that a city in Vermont would achieve renewable energy independence, because the state has been environmentally conscious for a long time. In an article about America’s greenest states, Forbes ranked Vermont number one, in a tie with Oregon. Washington state was number three.

In fact, Vermont has a goal of generating 90% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2050. The small, northern state was the first to ban fracking, so it won’t be too surprising if it can operate on mostly renewable energy, too.

For example, the Burlington situation doesn’t include much solar power, but as a state, Vermont is investing in solar. A new installation of 2.7-megawatts was recently completed at a landfill near Coventry.


In addition to taking care of the environment for the sake of caring about something very important, Vermont hosts about 13 million tourists each year. They spend approximately $1.4 billion annually.

The number of permanent residents in the state is only 626,000. Twenty times this number visit as tourists, and this is partly due to how much natural beauty remains intact there.

Sometimes conservation is criticized for being a barrier to economic growth, but in Vermont’s case, the preservation of natural resources has contributed greatly to the local economy.

It will intriguing to see if running on 100% renewable energy will draw additional tourists to Burlington.

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Hello, I have been writing online for some time, and enjoy the outdoors. If you like, you can follow me on Google Plus.

  • Aaron

    This and other articles should better clarify that the Burlington Electrical Department’s portfolio mix (utility-owned generation and power secured through contracts), not its actual electricity, is 100% renewable. It’s impossible to prove that 100% of the electrons that power Burlington are from renewable resources. Electrons travel the path of least resistance and it’s likely that some electricity that makes its way to Burlington comes from fossil fuel-based electricity on the New England ISO grid. Either way, I’m proud to live in Vermont.

  • ace

    I manage a 9.2 Mw run-of-river hydro-electric facility in British Columbia, and, flat out, we might support 3000 households. There must be another, large scale renewable facility providing the rest of the power necessary to support 42,000 people and their commerce and industry. Nameplate power capacity is NOT the actual output.

    • Philip Gardocki

      Thanks for doing the math. The first thing I did was look up the population like you did and then added up the two power stations mentioned, and at 10 or so MW, we are about 40MW short in this article. That is a lot of fry oil! Question, my cursory search for a household to MW ratio yielded abut 800 -1000 homes per MW, and your numbers are closer to 300 homes. Can you clarify that?

  • jgmaynard

    And this is yet another reason I live in Vermont. This state rocks!

  • Fez Fernandez

    Congratulations Burlington!

  • Will E

    more cities must follow. to make clean money to pay for jobs.
    What about transport. they need a city solar charge station for EV.

    • Offgridman

      Just a quick Google of “EV charging in Burlington Vermont” brings up many pages of listings, including their being a part of the ‘Drive Electric Vermont’ program.
      So it would seem that transportation on renewables is included in their plans, even if not specifically on solar.

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