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December 5, 2011
Contact: Kevin Coburn, Director of Communications

Green Mountain College Receives Constellation Energy “E2 Energy to Educate” Grant for Plug-In Vehicle Project

POULTNEY—Green Mountain College has received a $50,000 grant from Constellation Energy’s “E2 Energy to Educate” program to build a solar-power recharging station for a plug-in vehicle. The educational project, called “Design/Build Challenge: Solar Plug-In Vehicle Charging Station for Cold Climates,” is led by assistant professor of environmental studies Lucas Brown who administers the College’s Renewable Energy and EcoDesign (REED) program, and associate professor of economics and environmental studies Dr. Steve Letendre, who has significant research experience in integrating battery and hybrid electric vehicles with the utility grid.

The company’s E2 grants support hands-on demonstration projects that enhance student understanding of science and technology needed to address energy issues. Brown’s REED students will build an enclosed electric vehicle charging station which will house a small electric utility truck. The station will include a roof-mounted solar photovoltaic array for vehicle charging and active and passive solar thermal technologies to create a heated space. Local fourth and fifth grade students from the Rutland County schools will visit the completed station to investigate how solar energy can be used to generate electricity and learn about the benefits of renewable energy.

The electric truck will be used on campus to provide power for operations on the College’s Cerridwen Farm, which is already using photovoltaics to heat hot water for general farm needs and provide root zone heating for greenhouses.

“The root zone project is helping us learn how to extend the growing season in Vermont,” said Brown. “The cold weather in our region also tends to make plug-in cars less efficient. We think this is a way to make plug-in technology more viable in our latitude and provide an exciting project for our students that requires innovative design and technology solutions.”

According to Dr. Letendre, one of the most exciting new technologies entering the market today are plug-in vehicles, which use a new generation of advanced battery technology. In late 2010, Nissan and General Motors began selling plug-in cars using advance lithium ion battery systems which dramatically improve range and performance over earlier electric vehicles. Most other auto manufacturers are following suit with their own plug-in vehicle offerings.

However the emissions benefits of plug-in cars are limited by the source of energy used to produce the electricity. “Linking vehicle charging with renewable forms of electricity production like solar can provide a truly sustainable transportation system,” said Dr. Letendre.

Constellation Energy is a leading supplier of power, natural gas and energy products and services for homes and businesses across the continental United States. It owns a diversified fleet of generating units, totaling approximately 12,000 megawatts of generating capacity, and is a leading advocate for clean, environmentally sustainable energy sources, such as solar power and nuclear energy. In 2009, Constellation Energy joined the ranks of companies that give 1 percent or more of their annual operating income to support charitable organizations and causes. The E2 grant program is among a range of initiatives, donations and grants targeting the company's key areas of focus—energy, education, economic growth, the environment and employee involvement.

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