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Rutland County colleges team up with GMP Energy Innovation Center

RUTLAND - Green Mountain Power and all four Rutland County colleges signed an agreement on June 20 to work together to bolster economic, educational and community development, with GMP's new Rutland Energy Innovation Center serving as the focal point of the effort.

"Together we will promote educational and economic development opportunities in Rutland in a way that will benefit the colleges, the greater Rutland County region, traditional and adult students, the City of Rutland and the state as a whole," said Mary Powell, GMP's president and CEO. "We will work together to ensure that the GMP Energy Innovation Center becomes a vibrant educational asset, and the EIC will help the colleges connect their students with the community and provide meaningful educational opportunities on campus, at the EIC, and at other energy production sites."

Powell was joined by Castleton College President Dave Wolk, College of St. Joseph President Rich Lloyd, Community College of Vermont President Joyce Judy, and Green Mountain College President Paul Fonteyn, who signed a memorandum of understanding.
Under the agreement, GMP and the colleges will:

·         Create an EIC College Lecture Series open to the public and within the EIC, featuring professors and lecturers from the colleges on a rotating monthly basis, focused on energy, the environment, efficiency and related topics.

·         Collaborate to identify and present lecture topics and demonstrations by EIC staff within regular courses, on the college campuses.

·         Develop internship opportunities for students of the colleges who are interested in renewable generation and the energy industry, business and related topics, within the EIC and GMP more generally.

·         Create a job-shadowing program, so students can learn about different kinds of job opportunities and day-to-day job responsibilities in day-long or multi-day visits.

·         Use EIC exhibits and the EIC itself, the GMP Renewable Education Center in Rutland Town and other GMP renewable energy sites as adjunct classrooms for tours led by EIC staff for students from the colleges.

·         Investigate renewable development opportunities at the colleges and collaborate to develop sustainable generation and associated educational opportunities for students and the general public.

·         Continue to explore collaborative ideas to expand these partnerships.

"This is an extraordinary opportunity for our students," Wolk said. "It will provide academic and community-building benefits, connecting us to GMP's work and creating closer ties between the college and the city of Rutland."
Lloyd said CSJ is already looking into solar development on its campus in collaboration with GMP.  "We have several options we are considering," Lloyd said. "I expect we'll have a project or projects to announce shortly, which will help connect our students directly to GMP's efforts and the EIC."

"We are very excited to be a part of this initiative," Judy said. "CCV serves 750 students in the Rutland area, and the job shadowing and internship opportunities that this program will provide will help students access the broad array of employment possibilities in the energy field."
 
Fonteyn said the collaboration with GMP was a natural extension of work at GMC. "We have been on the leading edge of energy issues for many years, starting with our reliance on Cow Power a decade ago, and continuing with work with GMP on electric vehicle and heat pump research," Fonteyn said.

Steve Costello, GMP's vice president for generation and energy innovation, said working with the colleges would have benefits for all GMP customers over time.

"Above and beyond the educational value to individual students, we see enormous potential for research, program and renewable development, and ancillary benefits to the city and downtown Rutland," Costello said. "Events at the EIC will bring both traditional students and adults into downtown, which will add to its vibrancy and bring additional business to restaurants and other businesses."