$80,000 grant awarded to expand community solar program in New England

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The Energy Clinic at the Institute for Energy and the Environment (IEE) at Vermont Law School announced an $80,000 grant from The John Merck Fund, enabling faculty and student clinicians to expand the reach of their community solar work throughout New England.

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The grant, which covers a 12-month period, funds a new staff attorney and allows the clinic to increase advocacy efforts, community technical assistance, and training and peer support. These initiatives will help the region scale up its transition to locally developed, clean energy and provide a model for the rest of the nation.

“We thank The John Merck Fund for this generous grant that will support the expansion of the Energy Clinic’s community solar work across New England,” said Professor Kevin Jones, who recently was promoted to director of the IEE. “We are committed to helping communities and individuals meet their energy needs with clean, resilient, locally owned energy. Because of the fund’s generosity, we have been able to hire a new staff attorney and assistant professor to help us follow through on this commitment.”
The Energy Clinic has hired Jeannie Oliver LLM’13, an alumna and former Global Energy Fellow who returns to VLS after serving as special counsel for the Vermont Department of Public Service, where she focused on solar-siting issues.

RELATED: Community Solar Legal Primer: From project structure to consumer protection 

The Energy Clinic takes a community-minded approach by helping locals develop local clean energy projects that yield both environmental and economic benefits. The clinic’s clients include the Vermont Natural Resources Council, Randolph Community Solar, Vermont Farmers Food Center, New Hampshire Sustainable Energy Association, and the VLS Sustainability Committee. At VLS, the Energy Clinic helped procure net-metering credits from a local, 500-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system to meet over half of the school’s electric energy requirement while reducing its carbon footprint.

The Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School serves as a center for energy policy research with an advanced curriculum focused on the energy policy of the future. IEE research associates are selected from students in the energy and environmental programs at Vermont Law School, top-ranked in the nation for environmental law.

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