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Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vt., have announced a $15 million, three-year partnership with Sandia National Laboratory to establish a joint Center for Energy Transformation and Innovation to be housed at the University of Vermont (UVM).

"I am very proud to announce that we are bringing a very significant national lab presence to New England by establishing the Center for Energy Transformation and Innovation right here in Vermont," Sanders says. "It is our goal that this Vermont/Sandia partnership will lead to a long-term national-lab presence in Vermont, and that our state and the nation can benefit from the research conducted here for years to come."

The center will focus on energy efficiency, sustainable energy, economic development and the implementation of smart grid technology.

"Vermont has served as a national leader on energy - in electric efficiency programs, in small-scale renewable generation contracts, in net-metering policies and in implementing smart grid technologies statewide," says Shumlin. "This partnership with Sandia National Laboratories will further Vermont's energy leadership, helping us coordinate and focus efforts to make the smart grid work here in Vermont so that we can share our successes nationally to help build our 21st century energy infrastructure."

The idea for the Vermont-Sandia partnership came during a 2008 trip to the New Mexico research facility by Sanders, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The center is a partnership between the state of Vermont, Sandia, UVM and other academic institutions, Vermont utility companies, Efficiency Vermont and other Vermont businesses. In addition to UVM, other academic institutions participating in the project include Vermont Tech, Vermont State Colleges, Norwich University and Vermont Law School.

Participating utilities include Green Mountain Power, Central Vermont Public Service, Vermont Electric Power Co., the Burlington Electric Department, Vermont Electric Cooperative and the Washington Electric Cooperative.

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