Congressional delegation announces funding for White River VA expansion

first_imgCong. Delegation announces funding for White River VA expansionWASHINGTON (Monday, February 11) – Vermont’s Congressional Delegation – Sen. Patrick Leahy (D), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I), and Rep. Peter Welch (D) – announced today that the White River Junction VA Medical Center has been awarded $900,000 for designing a new imaging center and expanding its radiology services.  The medical center will be eligible for an additional $6 million for construction next year.The funding will allow the VA to plan and design the 6,996 sq. ft. expansion and renovation to the current facility.  The project will enhance radiology services for veterans and provide space for a permanent MRI machine. Leahy said, “To remain one of the country’s leading VA medical centers, White River Junction needs the latest equipment and facilities.  The new imaging center will create the space to bring in the most technologically advanced diagnostic and treatment sensors, keeping the hospital at the leading edge.  It will help provide the state-of-the-art quality care that our veterans deserve.”Sanders said, “This funding is good news for Vermont veterans. These resources will allow White River Junction’s VA to both add new space for a permanent MRI and renovate existing space so that Vermont veterans have top-notch radiology services.  As a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, I look forward to making sure that these funds are delivered to the White River VA in a timely manner.”Welch said, “I regularly talk with Vermont veterans who are forced to travel out of state for their medical care.  This radiology expansion will help increase the services our White River Junction’s VA provides so our veterans can get more of the care they need right here at home.  Our veterans are entitled to the best and most cutting-edge care we can provide.”# # # # #last_img read more

Vermont Quarter to get a makeover

first_imgThe Vermont quarter is getting a facelift or at least to its backside.  Governor Jim Douglas has nominated Vermont s 150 miles of the Appalachian Trail to replace the scene of Camel s Hump and sap buckets as part of the U.S. Mint s new America s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Program. Each governor gets to suggest a national park or site in his or her respective state. From Glastenbury Mountain to Woodstock and West Hartford, thousands of Vermonters and visitors each year discover and enjoy our slice of the country s best-known footpath, the Governor said. For more than a hundred miles, the Appalachian Trail follows the Long Trail, the oldest long-distance hiking trail in the nation, as it runs along the spine of our Green Mountains from Massachusetts to Quebec.Ben Rose, Executive Director of The Green Mountain Club, notes:  The Long Trail and Appalachian Trail are the backbone of Vermont s landscape, and the Green Mountain Club s (GMC) hundreds of volunteers take care of them.  The timing of this quarter is good, because this summer the GMC will host the Appalachian Trail Conservancy s biannual conference at Castleton State College from July 17-24.  This is a large event, where nearly a thousand hiking club leaders, volunteers, and experienced long-distance hikers from all over the eastern U.S. will converge in Vermont for guided dayhikes, workshops, and socializing.  It is also an invitation for more Vermonters to get involved with hiking clubs check out www.vermont2009.org(link is external). This is a great opportunity for us to share this wonderful resource with the rest of the country, Governor Douglas continued. And with warmer weather just around the corner, I hope Vermonters will get out and enjoy the miles of trails we have in our backyard.The U.S. Mint also asked that two alternatives be submitted. Governor Douglas suggested the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Park in Woodstock and the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge along Lake Champlain in Franklin County.The U.S. Mint will begin to issue a new 25-cent piece every 10 weeks in 2010, in the order in which each site was first established as a national site.For more information on the U.S. Mint program, visit http://www.usmint.gov/mint_programs/NSQuartersProgram/index.cfm(link is external).last_img read more

Southern Vermont College receives $200,000 Davis grant

first_imgSouthern Vermont College has announced the award of a prestigious grant from the Davis Educational Foundation in the amount of $200,000. The grant will provide funding for curriculum innovation.Southern Vermont College will conduct a three-year transition to a curriculum featuring four courses per semester, in place of its current five-course model, ultimately enabling students to probe subjects in greater depth. This structural change will allow for important pedagogical re-visioning as well. The college will distinguish its approach by significantly enhancing experiential learning across all fields of study, an approach aligned to engaged, collaborative, laboratory learning.The college already employs such strategies effectively in several degree programs, according to Provost Albert DeCiccio. Support from Davis Educational Foundation will help the college expand these laboratory practices, he reported. The depth created through the shift toward four-credit courses is what will enable full activation of this methodology, where opportunities for research and hands-on learning will link theory to practice. DeCiccio noted that many of the nation s top liberal arts colleges utilize a four-course, four-credit-per-semester curriculum. Our additional emphasis of hands-on learning is a direct response to the learning styles of our students; we embrace the opportunity to enhance our offerings through this approach.Southern Vermont College President Karen Gross commented, This approach will do more than help our current students. This creates a prototype for higher education more broadly.In making the award, Davis Trustees expressed admiration for the College s goals and recent accomplishments. They also assessed the project plans as thoughtful and ambitious, yet realistic. This Davis Educational Foundation gift provides affirmation of the new trajectory of Southern Vermont College and the important progress that we are making for our students and our institution, added Dean of Advancement Karen Trubitt.The grant was received from the Davis Educational Foundation established by Stanton and Elizabeth Davis after Mr. Davis s retirement as chairman of Shaw s Supermarkets, Inc.Founded in 1926, Southern Vermont College offers a career-enhancing, liberal arts education with 21 academic degree programs for approximately 500 students. Southern Vermont College recognizes the importance of educating students for the workplace of the twenty-first century and for lives as successful leaders in their communities. The college is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.last_img read more

Palmisano named Top Chef of the Champlain Valley

first_imgSam Palmisano of Pulcinella’s in South Burlington took home the title of the Top Chef of the Champlain Valley for the second year in a row. Palmisano competed against Chef Robert Barral of Café Provence and JJ Vezina of the Windjammer Restaurant and Upper Deck Pub in an Iron Chef competition using all fresh Vermont produce, cheese and proteins donated by area farmers. The secret ingredient was announced to the chefs and the audience at the start of the competition and each chef had 50 minutes to create an appetizer and entrée highlighting this year’s secret ingredient, honey. Chef Palmisano’s winning dish was a honeyed lamb tartare on mesclun greens in a ring of lightly roasted green pepper and for his entrée offered up a sweet and savory crusted lamb on wilted greens and gnocchi with honey sauce. For Palmisano the competition was fun but not his motivation for participating. The Top Chef of the Champlain Valley, an Iron Chef Experience benefits the Champlain Valley Agency on Aging’s Meals on Wheels and Case Management Programs and for Palmisano it is not about the competition or winning it is “all about the money, everything else is just a bonus. So excited CVAA was able to raise 25 grand.” Nearly $25,000 was raised by the Top Chef of the Champlain Valley, enough to provide over 5,000 meals to homebound seniors.Each chef presented his dishes to the panel of judges: Jozef Harrewyn, Executive Chef and Owner of Chef’s Corner in Williston, Melissa Pasanen, co-author of New York Times notable cookbook, “Cooking with Shelburne Farms: Food and Stories from Vermont”, Suzanne Podhaizer, food critic for Seven Days, and Annie Harlow, a local farm based food consultant. The crowd watched as the judges meticulously tasted and took notes regarding the flavor, presentation, execution and use of the secret ingredient. In the end their decision was unanimous, as Harrewyn remarked “Sam Palmisano is our Iron Chef!”For Palmisano the most emotional part of the evening was “seeing so many of our regulars come to support us because they believe in us and believe in what we do.” Having recently lost his last grandparent, Palmisano knows his “grandmother was one of the blessed ones and many people have not been as lucky as her, CVAA does good work to help the elderly.”The Top Chef of the Champlain Valley benefits the Champlain Valley Agency on Aging. CVAA helps seniors in Addison, Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle Counties age with independence and dignity. CVAA has helped over 50,000 seniors remain in their own homes and had delivered over 7 million Meals on Wheels in the Champlain Valley. For information about services available for seniors 60 and older call the Senior Helpline at 1.800.642.5119 or go to www.cvaa.org(link is external).###last_img read more

Sanders to vote NO on budget deal

first_imgSenator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said today he will vote against a bill that cuts more than $38 billion from programs that help working families without calling for shared sacrifice by the wealthiest Americans. Sanders’ Statement:Bush-era tax breaks for the very rich were extended last December ‘ driving up the deficit.  ‘Today, in order to reduce deficits that Republicans helped create, they now are slashing programs of enormous importance to working families, the elderly, the sick and children,’ Sanders said. ‘At a time when the gap between the very rich and everybody else is growing wider, this budget is Robin Hood in reverse. It takes from struggling working families and gives to multi-millionaires. This is obscene.’ While it is too soon to determine the exact impact the cuts will have on Vermont, Sanders, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, said ‘there can be no doubt that these cuts will be devastating to working families in Vermont and throughout the country.’ At a time of soaring fuel prices, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) would be cut by $390 million.  At a time when college education has become unaffordable for many, Pell grants would be reduced by an estimated $35 billion over 10 years, including a nearly $500 million cut this year. At a time when 50 million Americans have no health insurance, community health centers would be cut by $600 million and the Children’s Health Insurance Program would be cut by $3.5 billion. At a time when poverty is increasing, the Women Infant and Children (WIC) nutrition program for low-income pregnant women would be cut by $504 million. At a time when we have to put Americans to work rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, federal funding for high-speed rail would be eliminated, representing a cut of $2.9 billion. Public transportation would be cut by nearly $1 billion, a 20 percent reduction. At a time when police departments are struggling with inadequate budgets, local law enforcement funding would be cut by $296 million. At a time when homelessness is increasing, public housing would be cut by $605 million. ‘This budget moves America in exactly the wrong direction,’ Sanders said. ‘While there is no question that we must reduce soaring deficits, it must be done in a way that is fair, which protects the most vulnerable people in our country, and which requires shared sacrifice. I will not support a budget that will cut programs for struggling working families, the elderly, children and the poor while expanding tax breaks for billionaires, maintaining corporate tax loopholes and increasing military spending. That is just plain wrong.’ In the coming weeks, Sanders said he will work with colleagues in the Senate and House on a deficit-reduction package that is fair to all, and does not balance the budget only on the backs of working families. Source: Sanders’ office, 4.12.2011last_img read more

VHFA to release “Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Housing and Wages in Vermont”

first_imgVermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) will release the 2011 edition of ‘Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Housing and Wages in Vermont’ at a press event at 12 noon on Thursday, April 21, in the Statehouse Cedar Creek Room in Montpelier.The 2011 update is the 10th edition of the annual report first published in 2002.It shows, despite a long-term recession, that rental prices have continued to escalate making the gap between Vermonters’ wages and their cost of housing larger. Furthermore, the future of Vermont’s affordable housing is in jeopardy as federal subsidies are set to expire, and pressure grows to reduce national debt by cutting the federal budget.WHATRelease event: ‘Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Housing and Wages in Vermont’WHEN12:00 noon, Thursday, April 21, 2011WHERECedar Creek Room, Statehouse, State Street, MontpelierWHOSen. Vincent IlluzziChair; Committee of Economic Development, Housing and General AffairsRep. Helen HeadChair; Committee of General, Housing and Military AffairsSec. Lawrence MillerSecretary, Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community DevelopmentSarah CarpenterExecutive Director, Vermont Housing Finance AgencySource: Vermont Housing Finance Agencylast_img read more

Vermont renewable industry hails passage of energy bill

first_imgMONTPELIER, Vermont | May 5, 2011 – A bill promoting renewable energy development in Vermont and clean energy jobs won final approval by the Vermont Legislature late yesterday.  Martha Staskus, Chair of the Board of Renewable Energy Vermont (REV) says the bill helps keep Vermont on the map as a leader in renewable energy and energy efficiency. ‘The bill will spur the development of new local renewable energy, produce economic growth, and continue to grow clean jobs.’H.56, The Vermont Energy Act of 2011 continues Vermont’s efforts to promote a green economy and energy independence. It expands and improves Vermont’s successful net metering program and prevents a gap in funding for the successful Clean Energy Development Fund (CEDF). This fund leverages private investment to create renewable energy projects.  Net metering allows Vermont ratepayers to generate their own energy with renewable systems and run their meter backwards when producing excess power. Modeled after the successful Green Mountain Power SolarGMP program, which recognizes the peak power savings of net metered solar, the new bill requires utilities to offer a 20¢ credit for every excess kilowatt hour of solar electricity a customer produces.For instance, if the utility is charging 14 cents per kwh and the customer produces, say, an extra 100 kwh in a month, the customer would receive an extra 6 cents per kwh credit on top of the 14-cent utility rate, or an extra $6 credit on top of the $14. If the utility rate is 18 cents per kwh, under that same scenario the customer benefit would be $2 plus $18. In some smaller utilities with 20 or more cents per kwh, there would not be any extra, but the customer would still be credited the rate amount, even if it were 21 cents per kwh.‘The new statewide solar adder gives Vermont homeowners, businesses, non-profits and municipalities the incentive and ability to produce their own solar energy while recognizing the public benefit of distributed solar energy to Vermonters statewide,’ added Staskus.The bill includes expansions Vermont’s existing Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) districts, a program that allows towns to offer loans to homeowners looking to make energy efficiency retrofits.Other provisions in the bill provide incentives for consumers looking to install high efficiency biomass heating systems. It also establishes low sulfur and biofuel mandates for heating oil sold in Vermont, timed to match implementation by surrounding states. About Renewable Energy Vermont (REV), www.revermont.org(link is external)REV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan trade association representing nearly 300 businesses, individuals, colleges and others committed to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and expanding the availability of renewable sources of energy in Vermont. last_img read more

CVPS completes purchase of Vermont Marble Power Division of Omya

first_imgCentral Vermont Public Service (NYSE-CV) has completed the purchase of the Vermont Marble Power Division of Omya. ‘We are pleased to add Vermont Marble’s 875 customers to the CVPS family, and look forward to offering them extensive new service options,’ CVPS President Larry Reilly said.  ‘Over time, we will significantly improve the output from the former Vermont Marble hydro facilities on Otter Creek, adding clean, low-cost, new renewable generation to our portfolio.’ The transaction was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates the hydro sites and transmission facilities involved in the sale, and by the Vermont Public Service Board. The purchase price of approximately $29.25 million includes $28.25 million for Vermont Marble’s hydroelectric facilities and about $1 million for the other assets.  Under final terms of the sale negotiated with Proctor leaders, state regulators, and Omya, there will be a five-year, six-step phase-in of residential rate changes for existing VMPD customers, which will be funded by Omya up to an amount estimated to be approximately $1.125 million.  The agreement also requires creation of a value-sharing pool that provides for certain excess value received by CVPS to be split between CVPS’s customers, Omya, and CVPS shareholders if energy market prices and hydro improvements create more value than anticipated. CVPS’s current rates, though among the lowest of any investor-owned utility in New England, are higher than Vermont Marble’s rates because Omya has largely subsidized local electrical service in Proctor.  Absent the sale, Omya planned significant, needed infrastructure upgrades that would have affected rates. ‘Town officials suggested ways to reduce the impact of rate changes on customers, which led to the long-term phase-in for residential customers,’ Reilly said. Included in the sale are rights to serve all customers in Proctor, including the Omya industrial facility in Florence, which will become CV’s single-largest customer.  The sale also includes four hydroelectric facilities with a current combined capacity of 18.5 megawatts.  After the acquisition, CV plans to expand the output by about 3 megawatts and will own and operate the largest fleet of hydroelectric generating stations in all of New England. CV will invest an estimated $15 million to upgrade the Vermont Marble hydro facilities and operate them in consort with CV’s existing Otter Creek and East Creek hydro operations.  The company will also: Invest in the Vermont Marble system, immediately replacing the main substation at the Proctor hydro site and spreading the approximate $1.5 million cost over CV’s 160,000 customers rather than just Vermont Marble’s customers.Provide Proctor residents and businesses with greater resources.  For example, in the event of major storms, CV has nearly 30 line workers within an hour’s drive of Proctor.Offer choices and services Vermont Marble customers don’t have today, including automatic bill payments through CVPS Electripay, on-line bill payments, CVPS Cow Powerâ ¢, various rate choices, budget billing, on-line bill review and outage information, and in the near future, CVPS SmartPowerâ ¢, an automated meter reading, outage detection, and power management system. Vermont Marble’s seasonal and block-structure rate designs will be replaced with year-round flat rates.  Residential rates for existing Vermont Marble customers will be frozen at current levels initially, but will rise each January, based on pre-established rate credits, until they match CVPS’s rates.  Given the disparity between the companies’ current rates it is expected to take five years to complete the phase-in.  The rate credits become smaller each year until they reach zero and the rates are the same.  The rate credits were developed to narrow the gap between existing rates while limiting the phase-in rate increases to no more than 10 percent per year.  Vermont Marble customers will also be subject to any change in CVPS rates on a going-forward basis, so combined rate changes for Vermont Marble residential customers may be more or less than 10 percent.  ‘CVPS was ranked second in New England and New York for customer satisfaction in the most recent J.D. Power and Associates study,’ Reilly said.  ‘We will provide Proctor residents and businesses an excellent value, with top-notch customer service, a clean energy mix, and a commitment to safe and reliable service.’last_img read more

Underperforming U.S. Utility CEO Devoted to Coal and Nuclear Remains Buoyant

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg News:Tom Fanning is the only energy executive in America willing to bet billions on nuclear power.The chief executive officer of utility giant Southern Co. is renowned for his boundless optimism, which he generously spreads around. He’s chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, co-leader of one industry group and a former chairman of another. He’s a frequent visitor to Washington, where he’s met with Vice President Mike Pence, Scott Pruitt of the Environmental Protection Agency and old friend Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Fanning is often a guest of TV business news, where he’s spoken glowingly about “clean coal’’ and nuclear.There’s just one problem. His company isn’t doing that well.Southern’s Vogtle nuclear plant in Georgia, the first U.S. nuclear project to be licensed in three decades, went through a near-death experience as total estimated costs doubled to more than $25 billion. The plan survives with the help of $12 billion in federal loan guarantees. Southern also pulled the plug this year on its ambitious “clean coal’’ project in Kemper County, Mississippi, taking a $2.8 billion pretax charge that contributed to its biggest quarterly loss in a quarter century.Southern’s total return has increased 86 percent since Fanning took over in December 2010. But the S&P 500 Utilities Index return rose 137 percent and the S&P 500 return jumped 156 percent in the same period.Fanning and his utility are approaching a crossroads, the same fork in the road that energy producers and distributors face around the world. As the planet warms and thousands of jobs hang in the balance, it’s critical they direct investments to energy sources that best serve both present and future.He picked nuclear.The 60-year-old CEO leads a company buffeted by some of the biggest changes in the industry since Thomas Edison. A glut of natural gas flowing from shale formations has caused electricity prices to plummet, forcing coal and nuclear plants to shut. Demand for power has yet to recover since the Great Recession, thanks to gains in efficiency and customers’ increasing use of rooftop solar panels and other decentralizing technologies.Under his watch, Fanning said Southern has reduced reliance on coal to about 30 percent from 60 percent, increased its use of renewable and hydropower sources to 9 percent and expanded its access to natural gas by buying distributor AGL Resources. Southern also acquired a company, PowerSecure International, which builds backup grids and installs and manages solar projects.The CEO’s admirers say designs for the “clean coal’’ and nuclear plants were set in motion before Fanning took over and he’s done his best to shepherd them. “I came in after those decisions, and have been accountable for executing on that,’’ he said. “I would argue mega-projects like Vogtle and Kemper are pretty hard to do.’’Nuclear and coal-fired power plants would get a boost under a Trump administration plan. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would allow electricity customers to be charged more in order to bail out struggling power generators, which would be rewarded for keeping fuel on site. Proponents say it would make the energy grid more resilient. Critics say it would be expensive and solve a nonexistent problem.Last year, Fanning told them that Southern was in “as good a shape as we’ve been in some years’’ and that its $7.5 billion “clean coal’’ project, backed by the Energy Department and thought to pave the way toward a cleaner-burning future for the coal industry, was moving along “beautifully.’’Instead, the Kemper startup effort was plagued by delays and construction snafus and Southern abandoned it. Southern still faces lawsuits from various parties that claim improper disclosure about the project.“I appreciate him wanting to be optimistic and positive, but I think it’s incumbent upon the shareholders, including the shareholders inside the boardroom, to make sure he’s realistic,’’ said Anne Sheehan, director of corporate governance for the California State Teachers’ Retirement System.Fanning waxes positive about nuclear power despite some daunting trends. The average age of U.S. commercial reactors is about 36 years old, according to the Energy Information Administration. Since the 1990s, nuclear has generated about 20 percent of the power Americans use, but the percentage is expected to decline. In the past seven years, six nuclear power plants have announced early retirements, mostly for economic reasons.Southern, which owns 45.7 percent of the Vogtle project, is building two new reactors about 175 miles (280 kilometers) east of Atlanta, where two nuclear units already operate. More than 6,000 workers are involved in constructing the facility, which will have 800 permanent employees. The new units are expected to be finished by November 2022. They’ll produce enough power for 500,000 homes and businesses. The loan guarantees were set in motion under the administration of George W. Bush and first granted to Southern while Barack Obama was president.Critics, including consumer and environmental groups, argue that the Vogtle plant no longer makes sense because there are cheaper and cleaner options available.In a filing earlier this month, staff of the Georgia Public Service Commission said the Vogtle plant is “no longer economic” and the economic benefit would be “negative $1.6 billion.”The Vogtle nuclear reactors still have a chance to succeed. After builder Westinghouse Electric Co., a unit of Toshiba Corp., went bankrupt earlier this year, partly due to cost overruns at Vogtle, Southern agreed to take over construction. Fanning has said that the project is vital to the country’s national security. The company is awaiting approval from Georgia regulators to complete it. A decision is expected Dec. 21.The issues with both Vogtle and Kemper could have been foreseen, said David Schlissel, a director of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, a sustainable-energy research group. Schlissel said he testified to regulators that there were going to be problems with a first-of-its-kind plant with untested technology.“There were warning signs,” he said. “There were red lights flashing, telling them not to drive onto the train tracks.”More: This Utility Chief Is Betting Billions on Nuclear Underperforming U.S. Utility CEO Devoted to Coal and Nuclear Remains Buoyantlast_img read more

Chinese Government Tackles Wind Curtailment Woes

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:The Chinese government’s moves to ramp up renewable energy consumption have sparked optimism over the future of China Longyuan Power Group Corp., the country’s biggest wind power producer.Driving the bullishness on Longyuan and other Chinese wind power producers like Huaneng Renewables Corp. and China Datang Corp. Renewable Power Co. is a series of initiatives taken by the government recently to boost renewable energy demand and ease curtailment—a problem caused by overly rapid wind turbine installation and infrastructure bottlenecks. Grid operators have been forced to cut back on purchases as they are unable to fully absorb the intermittent power from renewables such as wind and solar.China, the world’s largest wind power producer, is considering setting a national target to reduce average wind curtailment rates to less than 10 percent next year and to about 5 percent by 2020, according to an April 12 government policy proposal document. The country is rolling out a clean-energy quota system to require minimum levels of renewable power use, holding regional grids, power distributors and generators responsible. In addition, China is clamping down on the ability of local authorities to plan new wind power projects in regions where the most turbines stand idle, slowing the expansion of the industry to a pace manageable for the electricity grid.In light of the recent improvement in the overall wind power industry, China is expected to build more wind farms this year to meet rising demand. Zhou Yiyi, a Shanghai-based analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said she expected China to add 21.3 gigawatts of onshore wind capacity this year, compared with 16.8 gigawatts in 2017.The idle rate at Longyuan’s wind farms will drop to about 7 percent in 2018 from 10.43 percent last year and 15.76 percent in 2016, President Li Enyi said in March. The company reported a 67 percent rise in net income in the first quarter on higher wind power output.More: Top China Wind Power Producer Shines as Fewer Turbines Idled Chinese Government Tackles Wind Curtailment Woeslast_img read more