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Financial Services Company Turns On Largest Solar Project in Vermont


Electricity from the largest solar electric installation in Vermont - an array of 418 solar panels - is now helping to power National Life Group's Montpelier headquarters.

As the sun peeked out from the clouds, National Life CEO Thomas H. MacLeay and Gov. Jim Douglas joined together today in a rooftop ceremony to commission the new system and to praise the public-private financial partnership that made the project possible.

A $200,000 state grant helped finance the $500,000 73 kW photovoltaic (PV) system.

"This project is exactly what we envisioned when we created the Clean Energy Development Fund," said the Governor. "We are supporting a diversified portfolio of clean energy technologies and leveraging private investments."

MacLeay said the combination of the state grant, federal and state tax credits and a solar incentive program from Green Mountain Power Co. made the project feasible.

"This project makes economic sense," said MacLeay. "More importantly, it makes environmental sense."

"Emissions from electricity generation using fossil fuels are considered the leading contributor to global warming," he said. "Solar has zero emissions."

National Life is eligible for a new incentive from Green Mountain Power. The SolarGMP program, working with existing "net metering" programs, pays customers for all solar energy generated at a rate of 6 cents per kilowatthour above and beyond any net metering payments.

"We are thrilled to support National Life's very significant addition of solar in Vermont," said Mary Powell, president and chief executive officer of Green Mountain Power. "We are convinced that by supporting major installations like this one at National Life, solar will become an important part of Vermont's energy future."

Ms. Powell also delivered a $40,000 check to MacLeay as part of a Green Mountain Power grant program.

Leigh Seddon, vice president of engineering for Solar Works Inc., which installed the system, said, "National Life's commitment to the environment is evident and we look forward to continuing our relationship with this project and with the planned installation of an upcoming solar thermal project."

That project, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year, calls for 20 thermal collectors - 800 square feet of collector area - to be set on the roof. Projections are those collectors will be able to supply more than half of the hot water for National Life.

"Vermont has tremendous sunshine," said Seddon. "We have 30 percent more annual solar radiation here than in Germany, which is No. 1 in the world for installed solar. There is tremendous solar potential in this state."

The solar initiative is one of more than two dozen energy-related projects National Life has undertaken in the six years MacLeay has been CEO. Under his stewardship National Life Group has taken a leadership role pioneering a variety of environmental initiatives.

That campaign will reach an impressive milestone at the end of this year when National Life hopes to win coveted LEED certification for its Montpelier headquarters. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. Experts say LEED certification for National Life's headquarters would be a first for a 50-year-old facility anywhere in the country.





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