SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) -- Vermont could create thousands of jobs if it used locally produced biomass to heat about 20 percent of the state's homes and businesses using modern, energy efficient equipment, an official said Monday.
"There is no reason why this state of Vermont should not be capturing as many opportunities from the great bulk of job opportunities from solar, to biomass, to wind, to geothermal, to efficiency, across the board," said Gabrielle Stebbins, the executive director of Renewable Energy Vermont, which is hosting a two-day alternative energy conference in South Burlington.
Stebbins and others discussed the challenges of reaching the state's goal of getting 90 percent of the state's energy from renewable sources by 2050.
Stebbins said that the organizations dedicated to clean energy in the state should be focused on "broadening the pie" rather than fighting each other.
Renewable Energy Vermont has several hundred business members and several hundred individuals who want to see a future that includes more clean and efficient energy, Stebbins said. The organization is focused on creating renewable energy jobs to increase the energy and economic security of the state and country while helping to reduce the effects of climate change.
Stebbins said Vermonters send an estimated $1.7 billion a year out of state to pay for fossil fuels used for heating and transportation.
She cited a study done by the Biomass Energy Resource Center that estimated that if Vermont converted 19 percent of homes and businesses to locally produced biomass fuels used in modern efficient boilers it would create about 7,000 jobs. That figure doesn't include jobs that would be created making those buildings more energy efficient.
Vermont is already among the country's leaders in the use of solar and in the number of green energy jobs, she said.