Today, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Peter Welch (D-VT), and Rep. Becca Balint (VT-AL) announced a $23,270 federal grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Energy for America Program to help in the installation of a roof-top solar array on a historic building in Brattleboro at the corner of High and Green Streets. The solar project will produce 112% of the current electrical usage, saving the building – which is home to a variety of small businesses – more than $11,000 annually.
“It is no secret that we must move boldly toward transforming our energy systems to address the existential threat of climate change,” said Sen. Sanders. “We don’t talk enough about the fact that the transition to renewable energy can actually help families, farms, small businesses, and municipalities save an enormous amount of money on electricity bills. These investments also strengthen local economies and make our communities more resilient. I look forward to seeing this important project help to do just that in Brattleboro.”
“To fight climate change, clean energy must be accessible everywhere, not just in new construction or big cities,” said Sen. Welch. “This grant will help bring solar to Brattleboro’s High Street & Green building, bringing this historic site into the clean energy future. I congratulate these small businesses on the switch to clean energy, and I thank USDA for the work they do to help our rural communities access green technologies and make the transition. I’ll continue to fight for more resources for this key part of our rural development in the Senate.”
“REAP grants are key to ensuring small businesses and farmers don’t get left behind in our transition to clean energy,” said Rep. Balint. “I’m grateful that this historic grant has reached small businesses in my hometown of Brattleboro. Equipping our rural communities with affordable, clean energy is essential for a greener future.”
“The REAP grant lowered the price of entry for our solar array to make it feasible for a century old downtown building filled with artists, makers, and non-profits to put it into play. Honestly, I don’t know why every building in town isn’t doing it,” said Tom Bodett, founder of HatchSpace community woodshop and owner of High Street & Green.
REAP helps qualifying farms, agricultural producers and small businesses in rural communities by providing grants and loans to make energy efficiency improvements – or build out new renewable energy systems, such as solar, wind, hydrogen, geothermal, and biomass energy systems. The Inflation Reduction Act expanded REAP with an increase of $1.17 billion in funding to support more farms and small businesses and doubling the existing grant-based cost-share levels. More information from the USDA Rural Development office can be found here.