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Ambulance service wins fourth Green Mountain Power solar grant to local nonprofit

RUTLAND - Rutland's Regional Ambulance Service will soon begin looking to the sun for part of its energy, thanks to a Green Mountain Power grant to help build a rooftop solar array.

Regional Ambulance Service (RAS) has won a $20,000 GMP grant, the fourth local nonprofit to win one as part of GMP's drive to make Rutland the Solar Capital of New England.

The grant will support a 15,000-watt array with 60 panels mounted on the southwest-facing roof of the RAS building, which will produce nearly a third of the ambulance service's electricity needs.

"RAS did a great job with its application, planning a much larger project than the grant, alone, could support," said GMP President and CEO Mary Powell. "The project will have a positive impact on a dozen communities served by RAS."

GMP offered the grants, which must be matched at least dollar for dollar by the recipients, to help non-profit groups build on-site solar arrays as part of GMP's effort to make Rutland the Solar Capital of New England, with the highest solar capacity per capita of any city in the region. RAS's project will cost about $60,000.

"The grant program inspired us to take a good look at how solar could help us mitigate our expenses," said Jim Finger, RAS's chief executive administrator. "The savings can be used to reduce operating costs, pay for equipment needs, and help keep local tax assessments down."

Previous grant winners included the Vermont Farmer's Food Center on West Street, Rutland Regional Community Television on Scale Avenue in Howe Center, and Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.

Same Sun of Vermont in Rutland will build the RAS project, as well as the one at the Vermont Farmer's Food Center. Same Sun has already completed the array at Rutland Regional Community Television. USA Solar Store in Perkinsville will build the array at Good Shepherd.

"These projects will be highly visible, and will help educate our customers about solar energy," said Steve Costello, GMP's vice president for generation and energy innovation. "Whether small-scale projects on homes, intermediate-sized projects like this, or larger solar farms, they all will help reduce our environmental footprint and reliance on dirtier energy sources, while reducing the summer peak demands on the system."

RAS began in 1983, and is now the largest ambulance service in Vermont. The service has been licensed as a paramedic service since 1990 and provides Advanced Life Support in Rutland City and 11 other communities. The service has seven ambulances and a staff of more than 50 state-certified emergency medical technicians and paramedics. RAS responded to 8,332 calls last year.