Douglas Announces New Rx Drug Pool for Vermont

first_imgGovernor Douglas Announces New Rx Drug Pool for VermontMontpelier — Governor Jim Douglas has announced he will propose aprogram to help Vermont’s employers’ pool their purchasing power tonegotiate lower prescription drug prices for their employees.”This new pooling program will allow participating employers to affordprescription drug benefits for their employees by taking advantage of bulkpurchasing discounts,” the Governor said.Governor Douglas said this effort is modeled on the multi-state purchasingpool he formed with Michigan in 2003, the nation’s first successfulmulti-state buying pool for Medicaid drugs. This pool saved Vermont $2million in the last fiscal year and is expected to save $ 3 million thisyear.”This is exactly the kind of innovative thinking Vermont needs,” Douglassaid. “Just as we have done with the Multi-State Pool, this in-state poolis a creative way to enhance leverage with the nation’s largepharmaceutical companies, and use real pressure to drive down costs.”The formula for buying pools is simple; as participation in the pool growsso too does the savings. “I’m very excited about the potential of this new program. It is a goodway to put pressure on the drug industry and help drive down prescriptiondrug costs for employees,” Governor Douglas said.”This new bulk buying pool is a market-based solution to the increasingcost of pharmaceuticals, and as more states see that this is an effortthat works, just has it has in the multi-state pool, drug costs willdecline further.Governor Douglas stressed that pooling programs demonstrate that solutionsto the increasing cost of pharmaceuticals are not artificial price orgovernment-run health care. “These pooling programs prove that usingpurchasing power to lower costs can work, and there is no need forgovernment-run health care that empowers politicians rather thanpatients,” he said.Governor Douglas also reiterated his proposals to require health careplans to disclose drug prices to doctors and patients and offer valueprice alternatives for generic drugs.COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH CARE REFORMThe Governor’s plan to help companies to pool together to negotiate forlower drug prices comes one week after Douglas presented his secondcomprehensive plan-A Prescription for a Healthy Vermont-for makingquality, affordable health care available to every Vermonter.By including the Fit and Healthy Kids and Chronic Care initiatives,long-term care reforms, a healthy aging initiative, prescription drugprice reduction efforts, and commitments to reducing substance abuse andencouraging healthy choices, Douglas has made comprehensive and long-termreform of Vermont’s health care delivery system and improving the overallhealth of Vermonters a central component of his plan to reduce health carecosts.”We need to do more than just change who pays the bill. If costs continueto increase at the current rate, it won’t matter what pocket the moneycomes from because they’ll all be empty,” the Governor has said. “That iswhy I have offered true reforms that tackle the root causes of risinghealth care costs, opens our system up to low cost options, encourageshealthy decisions and preventative care, and attacks health concerns attheir inception before they develop into more serious and costlyailments.”Douglas says Vermont needs to maintain a patient-centered system thatoffers more individual choice and keeps health care decisions in the handsof patients and doctors, not government bureaucrats.To lower the cost of health insurance, Governor Douglas proposed a planthat would immediately reduce premiums by 15 percent for every Vermonterwith an individual insurance plan; offer low and middle income Vermontersa premium discount of up to 60 percent; reduce, by up to 50 percent, thecost for a small business to start providing insurance to employees; anddecrease the number of uninsured Vermonters by 20 percent in the firstyear alone.”But we won’t stop there,” Douglas stressed. “I will work every year tomake progress toward our goal of affordable and accessible health care foreveryone.”last_img read more


SIT Receives $50,000 Anonymous Gift for Scholarship for Women

first_imgSIT Receives $50,000 Anonymous Gift for Scholarship for WomenScholarship Honors Dr. Karen BlanchardBRATTLEBORO — An anonymous donor recently gave $50,000 to the School for International Training (SIT) to endow a new scholarship in honor of SIT Associate Professor Karen Blanchard. The Karen Stromgren Blanchard Scholarship for Women is designated for women who wish to undertake graduate or professional development work in SITs intercultural leadership program. The school offers a broad array of studies in nonprofit leadership and management, ranging from sustainable development to conflict transformation and international education.Blanchard, who earned her Ph.D. at the California Institute of Integral Studies, has taught at SIT since 1988. “It’s a very kind, sweet, humbling gift,” said Blanchard, “and it will be a great help to deserving women who want to participate in our programs.” Blanchard, who will be involved in the selection of scholarship recipients, said that women following in the footsteps of recent Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai will be top candidates. Maathai, an environmentalist and advocate for social change, is also a trustee of World Learning, SIT’s parent organization. Long before Wangari received the Nobel Prize, she was a grassroots activist who believed that change was possible, Blanchard said.”This gift is a wonderful testament to the impact Karen Blanchard is making on so many students who come to SIT for the unique education the school provides,” said Carol Bellamy, former director of UNICEF and new president of World Learning and SIT. “The generosity of this anonymous donor guarantees that Karen’s commitment to making a difference in the world will be realized for many years to come.For more information contact Ellen A. Holmes, VP for Development, at 802/258-3139 or email giving@worldlearning.org(link sends e-mail).Note: A digital photo to go with this press release can be requested from bob.lawson@sit.edu(link sends e-mail).- 30 –last_img read more


State Archives and Public Records to consolidate services in Middlesex

first_imgSecretary of State Deb Markowitz announced today that the Redstone offices of the Vermont State Archives and Records Administration (VSARA) will be moving to the record center on Route 2 in Middlesex.  The move, which will occur during the week of March 9th, is part of an ongoing effort to consolidate and improve the services of VSARA. Last year the legislature passed a law that transferred the functions of the Public Records Division to the Archives Division of the Secretary of State s Office, said Markowitz.  This creates a single, professional voice for advising agencies on the management of their records from point of creation to final disposition, thus increasing efficiency and improving service.During this transition, some disruption in services is anticipated.  On March 9th and 10th, limited notary and administrative procedure act services will be available at Redstone, but the reference room will be closed.  The Middlesex vital records services will be open on a limited basis on the 9th and 10th.  Both operations will be closed from Wednesday, March 11th until Monday, March 16th. Certain records, including legislative committee, gubernatorial, surveyor general, and Manuscript Vermont State Papers records will remain at Redstone until new vault facilities are completed at Middlesex.  These records are available for review by appointment only by calling (802) 828-2308.For more information about the services provided by the Vermont State Archives and Records Administration, visit our website at http://vermont-archives.org/(link is external)Source: Vermont Secretary of Statelast_img read more


Illuzzi statement lays out reasons for fixing UI Trust Fund now

first_imgVermont’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund has been operating in a deficit since January. The federal government is lending the state money – at zero percent – since that time. Estimates are that before the economy recovers and the UI fund begins to recover on its own as fewer and fewer people file unemployment claims, the UI fund deficit could reach $300 million or more. While the federal government ensures that unemployment compensation is paid, there is also no guarantee that the federal government will continue to loan states money interest free.Everyone in Montpelier agrees that the UI Trust Fund is in the red now because it was underfunded for many years when the economy was doing well. Once the recession hit, the fund was quickly drained. But not everyone agrees on how to fix the problem. There is some consensus that employers will have to pitch in more and that beneficiaries will have to receive less. But that notion is not universal. Given the difficult time legislators are having trying to balance the General Fund budget, they have had a difficult time also securing a solution to the UI fund deficit. State Senator Vince Illuzzi, chairman of the Economic Development, Housing & General Affairs Committee, is urging action this legislative session before the situation gets worse.Statement Of Senator Vince IlluzziUnemployment Insurance Trust FundPress ConferenceThursday, April 15, 2010One of the most important issues that must be resolved before the General Assembly adjourns is fixing the bankrupt Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.It’s a priority for the 23,800 employers who support the system. If we fail to act, Vermont employers will face additional and otherwise unnecessary penalty payroll taxes.It’s a priority for all Vermonters who depend on state programs and services. If we as a state are forced by inaction to spend even more money to pay interest on the additional money we must borrow from the federal government, that means we will need to further cut state programs and services or raise taxes. Both options are unacceptable.Every legislator and the Governor need to ensure that this issue is addressed this year in a meaningful and substantive way. We can’t afford to kick the can down the road for a second year in a row.If the General Fund was expected to be in the red to the tune of $284 million, there would be alarm bells going off all over the place. A crisis mentality would set in. The same alarms should be going off with regarding to the UI trust fund.Any time you have any state program expected to run almost $300 million in the red – in this case regarding a state program that is already bankrupt – it’s clear that immediate action is warranted on the part of all the key players. We have a crisis in the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.The businesses that are represented by the organizations whose leaders are with me today are prepared to step up to the plate and do their part to fix the problem. They know that paying more now will avoid paying even more later.My committee has made the first volley on this issue in the form of S. 290, a bill that is tough on everyone. Like any bill that is introduced, it’s a starting point with a few controversial provisions. There’s something in that bill for everyone to hate.Since the time that this press conference was planned earlier this week, I understand a meeting is now scheduled between the Governor, the Speaker and the President Pro Tem. That’s positive news, and I hope the next step in moving this issue forward in a meaningful way toward a substantive resolution in the next few weeks.Thank you.Source: State Senator Illuzzi, R-Essex-Orleans.-30-last_img read more


CCV to lease new building in downtown Rutland

first_imgOn Thursday, June 3, the Vermont State Colleges Board of Trustees approved a resolution that authorizes the Community College of Vermont (CCV) to enter a lease agreement with DEW Construction Corporation of Williston, Vermont to design and build a new academic facility for CCV in Rutland.  The facility will be located on the corner of Wales and West Streets, and will be a 30,000 square foot building.  CCV will lease the facility from DEW, with occupancy scheduled for August 1, 2011.  The new building will replace CCV’s current location at 24 Evelyn Street, where CCV has leased 12,000 square feet of classroom and office space since 1999.CCV President Joyce Judy stated that “Rutland is CCV’s second largest location, and it is the fastest growing location in the college.”  CCV had 900 students enrolled in the Rutland area in the spring 2010 semester, which is a 58% increase in student enrollment in the past five years.“CCV is pleased to be able to remain in downtown Rutland,” said Dean of Administration Barbara Martin, who oversaw the development of the new lease agreement.  “We have enjoyed tremendous benefits through growing student enrollments in Rutland, with excellent faculty and staff and strong partnerships with area agencies and businesses.”In its current location, CCV brings over 400 potential customers per day – 900 per week – to downtown retailers.CCV in Rutland is offering 150 courses for its fall semester beginning September 7th, and registration for fall semester is now under way. The Community College of Vermont is a member of the Vermont State Colleges and has 12 learning centers statewide, serving 12,000 students each year. For more information, visit www.ccv.edu(link is external), call 802-786-6996 or stop by 24 Evelyn Street for more information.Source: CCV. 6.3.2010last_img read more


People’s United Financial appoints John P Barnes as president and CEO

first_imgPeople’s United Bank,People’s United Financial, Inc (Nasdaq: PBCT), a diversified financial services company, today announced that it has named John P. (Jack) Barnes as President, Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board of Directors effective immediately.  Barnes was also named President, CEO and a director of the Company’s subsidiary, People’s United Bank.  Barnes, 54, has served as interim President and CEO since the departure of former CEO Philip R. Sherringham in April. He was with Chittenden Bank Vermont until it was bought by People’s in 2008.The company’s announcement follows an extensive executive search involving internal and external candidates, which the Board of Directors conducted in partnership with Russell Reynolds, a leading executive search firm with substantial financial services sector expertise.”We are pleased to announce that, after a very thorough search process involving numerous external candidates, the Board unanimously determined that Jack is the right leader for the company in its next phase of growth,” said Chairman of the Board George P. Carter. “He has a broad banking background and extensive experience with bank acquisitions and integration ‘ both as a leader at People’s United and at Chittenden Corporation. He also brings to the role a unique and essential understanding of the commitment of People’s United to its customers, employees and communities throughout the franchise.”In the three months that Jack has led People’s United as interim President and CEO, he has clearly demonstrated his strong leadership skills and the ability to execute on our strategy of delivering growth and increasing shareholder value,” Carter added. “Along with our solid second quarter earnings results, we also announced last week two strategic acquisitions that extend our footprint as the largest bank headquartered in New England even further into the New York metro and Boston area markets,” Carter continued. “During the past six months Jack also has overseen the very successful conversion of our core banking systems and the process of rebranding all of our northern New England divisions to the People’s United Bank name.””I am delighted by the Board’s decision,” Barnes said. “I look forward to continuing to work closely with our Board, management team, and dedicated employees as we build on our strong strategic and financial foundation. People’s United benefits from a number of unique characteristics in the present environment, including our enviable footprint, strong balance sheet, solid asset quality and many growth prospects, and I am excited about the opportunity to fully realize the bank’s potential.”Barnes joined People’s United Financial as Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer following the acquisition of Chittenden Corporation in early 2008.  In this position, he managed Information Technology, Operations, Real Estate Services and Business Services.  Barnes joined Chittenden Bank in 1983 after five years with the FDIC in Boston. He became Senior Vice President and Chief Credit Policy Officer in 1988.  In 1990, he was named to head the Credit Policy and Administration division. In 2002, he was appointed Executive Vice President in charge of the newly formed Chittenden Services Group, which included Information Technology, Operations and other centralized services for the corporation. Forward-Looking Statements Disclosure and “Safe Harbor” NoteCertain statements contained in this release are forward-looking in nature.  These include all statements about People’s United Financial’s plans, objectives, expectations and other statements that are not historical facts, and usually use words such as “expect,” “anticipate,” “believe” and similar expressions.  Such statements represent the Board’s and management’s current beliefs, based upon information available at the time the statements are made, with regard to the matters addressed.  All forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could result in outcomes (including those affecting People’s United Financial’s actual operating results or financial condition) that differ materially from those expressed in or implied by such statements.  Factors of particular importance to People’s United Financial include, but are not limited to:  (1) changes in general, national or regional economic conditions; (2) changes in interest rates; (3) changes in loan default and charge-off rates; (4) changes in deposit levels; (5) changes in levels of income and expense in non-interest income and expense related activities; (6) residential mortgage and secondary market activity; (7) changes in accounting and regulatory guidance applicable to banks; (8) price levels and conditions in the public securities markets; (9) competition and its effect on pricing, spending, third-party relationships and revenues; and (10) the successful integration of acquired companies.  People’s United Financial does not undertake any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.People’s United Financial, Inc., a diversified financial services company with approximately $22 billion in assets, provides consumer and commercial banking services through its subsidiary, People’s United Bank, with nearly 300 branches inConnecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine and New York. Through additional subsidiaries, People’s United provides equipment financing, asset management, brokerage and financial advisory services, and insurance services.SOURCE: People’s United Financial, Inc. 7.22.2010/PRNewswire-FirstCall/last_img read more


Shumlin calls on Entergy Vermont Yankee to protect Vermont’s aquifers

first_imgDear Mr. Colomb,As Governor-elect, the integrity of Vermont’s aquifer is of the highest concern to me. I respectfully request that Entergy return its extraction wells to service and repeat my earlier request to increase the number of wells to prevent tritiated water from entering Vermont’s precious and irreplaceable aquifers.  It appears that ENVY made the decision to arbitrarily terminate the process of extracting tritiated ground water from the Vermont Yankee site as soon as 300,000-gallons of water had been removed.  The tritium concentration level of the remaining on site tritiated water after the 300,000-gallon cutoff was never provided to justify that decision.  On February 25, 2010, ENVY also made the decision to close its Construction Office Building (COB) well, which had been leaking tritiated water  into the underlying aquifer. ENVY’s February press release stated that if the well continued to operate, there was a ‘small possibility’ that its operation would draw tritium into the aquifer and cause ‘cross contamination’.  Therefore, shutting down the COB well was an appropriate precaution to avoid contaminating the aquifer.However, the October 8, 2010 hydrological COB well test results showed that the tritiated water had indeed contaminated the COB well even though it had been shut down seven months earlier.  This October 2010 discovery suggests that the likelihood of cross contamination of the COB well water was more significant than ENVY engineers had estimated in February.  The evidence shows that cross contamination of bedrock has apparently been occurring even after the COB well was shut down.  At that time, I recommended that the extraction wells remain in operation and their number be increased to avoid contamination of our aquifer. On October 13, 2010, Dr. William Irvin with the State Department of Health said,   â ¦the 300,000- gallon mark shouldn’t be an end point for the extraction process. He said cold weather is an impediment, but Entergy should continue to pump and store tritiated water through the winter. Irwin described the ‘extraction’ wells as ‘critical.’â ¦ ‘(Entergy) should make an effort to continue the extraction as long as tritium is in the water,’ Irwin said.  (Vermont Digger)Yet despite my suggestion and Dr. Irwin’s recommendation that the extraction wells remain operational, ENVY went ahead and on November 18, 2010 shut down these vital water safety devices.  The following day Entergy detected 500,000 pCi/l of tritium near the COB well and at bedrock.  This high radioactive concentration near the COB well and at bedrock is a further indication that the aquifer may be in serious jeopardy of contamination from tritium and other radioactive isotopes.Furthermore, I have been informed that since detecting tritium at a depth of 220 feet in the COB well in October, Entergy has not taken any radiation samples from the bedrock or aquifer via the COB well.  The COB well is the only source of data about what is happening in the aquifer under the site, so I also respectfully request that additional samples be taken regularly to allow the State of Vermont and Entergy to ascertain if one of Vermont’s essential aquifers has been or is being contaminated by tritiated water from this newest expansion of the tritium plume.  I also request that a formal schedule of testing of water, Connecticut River fish, and on-site vegetation be conducted for tritium, strontium and cesium.None of these requests should take any extensive effort and I would anticipate that recommended actions could be completed by the end of the week.  I would hope you would support these actions which I believe are in the public interest.  I look forward to hearing from you and to a productive working relationship.Sincerely,Peter ShumlinGovernor-Elect Northstar Vermont Yankee,Governor-elect Peter Shumlin sent a letter to Entergy’s Vermont Yankee Site Vice President, Michael Colomb today. Shumlin requests in the letter that Entergy return its extraction wells to service and repeated his request to increase the number of wells to prevent contaminated water from harming Vermont’s aquifers.The complete letter follows: December 7, 2010Michael Colomb, Site Vice President320 Governor Hunt RdVernon, Vt05304CC: Gregory Jaczko,  NRC Chairmanlast_img read more


GE Aviation Rutland shares energy reduction strategies, saved $1 million and 15 million kwh

first_imgSource: GE. RUTLAND, VT  ‘ May 18, 2011 ‘ Back Row, L to RMike Leonard, Efficiency VermontSenator Vincent IlluzziJim Merriam, Efficiency VermontLt. Governor Phil ScottSenator Bill CarrisDan DiBattista, GE Aviation GE Aircraft Engines – Rutland Operation,GE Aviation’s Rutland facility shared its energy reduction strategies with leading Vermont industrial businesses along with state and Congressional leaders at a special meeting on May 18 at the GE Aviation Rutland facility. GE has saved 15 million kilowatt hours of electricity and nearly 8,000 tons of CO2 in emissions reduced.Since 2006, the GE Aviation Rutland facility and Efficiency Vermont have worked together to identify and implement energy savings programs at the 400,000-square-foot Windcrest Road and 100,000-square-foot Columbian Avenue locations. The team has completed 16 projects that have reduced the annual electrical usage by more than 15 million kwh and reduced CO2 emission by close to 8,000 tons. GE Aviation estimates its annual electrical cost savings is more than $1 million for both Rutland locations. Examples of energy savings projects include:-          Lighting upgrades: Changing lighting from high pressure sodium fixtures to high performance T8 high bay fixtures. Annual savings of close to 2.5 million kWh in electricity and reduction of 1,000 tons of CO2 emissions, as well improved lighting in manufacturing areas.-          Right sizing equipment: Replacing eight over-sized rotary ovens with eight right-sized ovens and reduction in compressed air consumption.  Annual savings of nearly 1 million kWh in electricity and reduction of more than 450 tons of CO2 emissions.-          Aligning infrastructure to new processes: Changing two 100 HP ventilation systems to two 5 HP ventilation systems. Annual savings of more than 1 million kWh in electricity and reduction of more than 550 tons of CO2 emissions.-          Reducing compressed air consumption:Replacing 11 air diaphragm pumps with 11 electric pumps. Annual savings of more than 440,000 kWh in electricity and reduction of close to 230 tons of CO2 emissions.-          Creating employee energy awareness: Promoting energy conservation on the shop floor through employee awareness and simple equipment shut down and start up procedures in all production areas. This program, with little or no capital expense, yielded an estimated 12% electrical reduction in one year. ‘The team’s efforts have provided significant benefits to the site as well as the environment,’ said Dan DiBattista, plant manager for GE Aviation Rutland. ‘The energy savings is enough to power close to 900 Vermont homes annually and the CO2 emission reduction is the equivalent of removing close to 475 cars off the road each year.’‘GE Aviation is a leader in energy efficiency in the state of Vermont,’ said Mike Leonard, key account manager for Efficiency Vermont. ‘We’ve been pleased to partner with them as they’ve taken energy efficiency to a whole new level through process improvements and making energy use reduction a key part of operations.’ The energy efficiency efforts are part of GE’s ecomagination initiative, which includes a commitment by GE to reduce its absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 25 percent, water usage by 25 percent and energy intensity reduction by 50 percent. For more information about GE’s ecomagination, visit:www.ecomagination.com(link is external).GE Aviation, an operating unit of GE (NYSE: GE), is a world-leading provider of jet and turboprop engines, components and integrated systems for commercial, military, business and general aviation aircraft. GE Aviation has a global service network to support these offerings. GE Aviation Rutland manufactures airfoils and vane for jet engines used in commercial and military aircraft. For more information, visit us at www.ge.com/aviation(link is external). Follow GE Aviation on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/GEAviation(link is external) and YouTube athttp://www.youtube.com/user/GEAviation(link is external). Efficiency Vermont was created by the Vermont Legislature and the Vermont Public Service Board to help all Vermonters reduce energy costs, strengthen the economy, and protect Vermont’s environment. Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC) operates Efficiency Vermont under an appointment by the Vermont Public Service Board. VEIC is a Vermont-based nonprofit organization founded in1986. For more information, contact Efficiency Vermont at 888-921-5990 or visit www.efficiencyvermont.com(link is external).Pictured: Front Row, L to RPaul Bender, GE AviationCharlie Barker, GE AviationDrew Hamer, GE Aviationcenter_img Middle Row, L to RRick Thibodeau, Efficiency VermontJonathan Aldrich, IBMKate Hunter, Efficiency Vermontlast_img read more


Vermont Farm Disaster Relief Fund to support farmers affected by Irene

first_imgThe Vermont Agency of Agriculture has partnered with the Vermont Community Foundation to create the Vermont Farm Disaster Relief Fund, which will assist Vermont farms that sustained damage from Tropical Storm Irene. The relief fund will pool contributions from donors and will make grants directly to farmers affected by the storm. ‘Following Tropical Storm Irene, the Agency of Agriculture received calls from many farmers seeking guidance about lost land, lost crops, and lost livestock, as well as calls from Vermonters interested in supporting farmers,’ said Chuck Ross, Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture. ‘Until now, there was no designated fund to which we could direct callers. The Farm Disaster Relief Fund creates a vehicle where we can connect the resources of concerned donors to the needs of affected farmers who have suffered damages from tropical storm Irene.’  The Community Foundation and Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross will work together in consultation with local organizations to distribute the funds, which will be used by farmers to replace infrastructure as well as help cover losses sustained from the storm. Representatives from the Foundation and the Agency of Agriculture will meet within the coming week to further define the guidelines of the application process to the Relief Fund. ‘People across the country are interested in helping Vermont farmers. As we all know, many of these farmers lost everything,’ says the Vermont Community Foundation’s President and CEO Stuart Comstock-Gay. ‘These resources will help them get through the next few months and allow them to begin to rebuild, restore, and get back on their feet.’ The Agency of Agriculture works to facilitate, support and encourage the growth and viability of Vermont agriculture while protecting the working landscape, human, animal and plant health and the environment. Visitwww.vermontagriculture.com(link is external) for more information. The Vermont Community Foundation has been helping donors give to the causes and organizations they care about since 1986. We are Vermont’s largest and leading homegrown grantmaker. Together, our family of over 600 funds provides more than $10 million in grants per year. In addition, we help keep Vermont’s nonprofit community vital by offering endowment management and planned giving services, and providing leadership in charitable giving of all kinds. Visit www.vermontcf.org(link is external) or call 802-388-3355 for more information.last_img read more


Burlington Electric, not Telecom, sparks mayoral race

first_imgBurlington Electric Department,Republican mayoral candidate Kurt Wright dropped the first bomb shell of the Burlington mayoral race yesterday with his suggestion that the city should sell the Burlington Electric Department. Wright explained that the sale would help pay for mounting debt in the city’s largest city, in particular a looming $50 million shortfall in the pension fun, a $17 million budget deficit and the on-going mess with Burlington Telecom, which along with being a financial failure to date is dragging the city’s, BED’s and Burlington International Airport’s credit rating down with it.Wright, a state representative and former chairman of the City Council, emphasized that this would not be a ‘fire sale.’ He said BED is a valuable city asset. If the city could not get a reasonable price, then it should not be sold. He said the utility could fetch more than $100 million net of debt and go a long way toward restory the city’s financial situation. BED employs about 130 and last year had revenues of $54.3 million. The McNeil generating facility is in the city’s Intervale section and its headquarters or on Pine Street. BED owns half of the 50 megawatt McNeil plant (for perspective, the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant is 605 MW).BED’s overall rates are 13.41 cents per kilowatt hour (state of Vermont, 2009), compared to the statewide average of 12.69 cents. Green Mountain Power was 11.89 cents and CVPS was12.67. The New England average was 15.86 cents; the US average was 9.98 cents.Along with paying off debt, shedding the city of BED would get rid of some risk for the city. BED has thrived in recent years as the price of natural gas has come down. The power it produces also looks relatively cheap compared to the rest of New England, which has high electric costs compared to most of the rest of the nation.Vermont in general has relatively lower rates than most other New England, and indeed Northeast, utilities, with only Maine having lower overall rates in the region for 2010 (For 2010, New England rates generally went down slightly and Vermont’s went up, putting Vermont second to Maine for 2010 where it was first in 2009). BED is lower than nearly all of them, giving ratepayers in Burlington a bit of a break.The McNeil generating plant burns wood or gas (and can burn fuel oil). When needed, BED contracts to buy power from sources that are in sync with the overall ethos of the city’s progressive politics. It does not have any contracts with nuclear plants.But this current rosy picture was not always the case and if the cost of wood or natural gas were to skyrocket, or other sources, such as nuclear is now seen doing, become much cheaper, then BED power could be relatively expensive.Needless to say, the reaction from the mayor’s office was swift.Progressive Mayor Bob Kiss said in a statement soon after Wright’s announcement that: ‘Kurt Wright’s proposal to sell the Burlington Electric Department is short-sighted and irresponsible. BED is a tremendous asset of the City. As a municipally-owned utility, it reflects important values of local rate-payer control and public accountability. BED is widely-acknowledged as one of the nation’s leading utilities with respect to the use of renewable energy sources. Selling an asset like BED for a one-time benefit undercuts Burlington’s future. It’s a short-term gimmick that lacks prudence and vision.‘The urgency suggested by this proposal is misplaced,” the mayor said. “The City is working towards constructive solutions for issues such as Burlington Telecom and the pension fund. Despite the national economy Burlington has been successful in attracting new businesses and jobs, strengthening the City’s infrastructure, and building sustainable municipal budgets that have continued to deliver quality services without the need for a general city tax increase over the last 6 years. Proposing to sell BED under these circumstances is an erratic solution to circumstances that require steadiness and careful consideration.’Vermont State Representative and Democratic mayoral candidate Jason Lorber also decried Wright’s suggestion to sell Burlington Electric.‘Kurt Wright is trying to sell out our city and Burlington values,’ said Lorber.‘Selling out Burlington Electric to private hands would be committing financial malpractice,’ he said. ‘Burlington Electric saves residents money, while reducing energy consumption. I believe that energy-independence and efficiency are paramount to sustainability. That’s what Burlington Electric does, while saving money. Burlington Values our people, our environment, and workers far above a fast buck.’last_img read more