Ending years of often bitter litigation, 14 Vermont utilities and the state’s independent power producers on January 29 filed a proposed settlement that would save Vermont consumers between $11 million and $45 million, according to a statement released by the utilities and the Vermont IPPs. The Public Service Board would have to approve the agreement.The settlement would initially reduce power costs for the 14 utilities by $11 million to $15 million, or 5 to 8 percent annually, over the next 10 years. The parties also agreed to work together to seek legislative approval for securitization of remaining IPP costs, which would save an additional $20 million to $30 million for ratepayers. Securitization is the issuing of bonds to buyout or buydown the future value of the contracts of the small power producers. The interest rates on the bonds would be about 4.5-5.5 percent per year. Ratepayers would pay the principal and interest through an extra charge on bills determined by their amount of electricity use. The cost difference would save ratepayers $2-3 million per year over the next 10 years.The initial power cost reductions will go forward, pending Public Service Board approval, regardless of securitization. Securitization requires passage of a bill now going through the Legislature that would allowing the PSB to grant it. The IPPs are small power producers, commonly hydro generating plants, whose wholesale rates to utilities are generally much higher than that of regulated power producers.The initial savings include: $6.69 million from reducing and eliminating some security requirements for the IPPs and $3 million in direct revenue reductions for the IPPS. Changes in dispatch plans at Ryegate and possibly Missisquoi IPPs will provide at least $1 million, but that figure could rise to $2 million to $4 million.The benefits of the settlement would be distributed to the 14 utilities based on the share of energy they provide.
By an overwhelming margin, the member/ratepayers of Washington Electric Cooperative have given their approval to the construction of a generating facility at the states largest landfill in Coventry. The project, which will be a very significant, long-term source of stable and affordably priced power for the Co-ops members, received a certificate of public good from the Vermont Public Service board. The board then immediately called for a special membership meeting and vote, as such projects also need member approval according to Vermont law.The Coventry project will supply more than a third of their members power needs for at least twenty-five years, at a cost that is below any other alternative available. The WEC will be building a generating facility on the landfill that is operated by New England Waste Services of Vermont, a subsidiary of Casella Waste Systems. Methane produced by the decomposition of waste will power the generating equipment. WEC will be installing 4.8 megawatts (MW) of capacity initially.The facility, which is expected to be online in January 2005, will initially generate just under 4 MW based on currently available gas, and will generate more as additional gas is produced. The building will be built to house additional equipment, as it is expected that there will be sufficient gas available in future years to generate 6 MW or more. WEC will also be constructing a 7.2 mile transmission line to a VELCO substation in neighboring Irasburg, in order to make the power available to WEC’s service territory. read more
Saint Michael’s College,Saint Michael’s College is ranked 105th in the Best (national) Liberal Arts Colleges category of the 2010 edition of the U.S. News & World Report magazine s popular, but controversial, rankings of American colleges and universities. Having moved two years ago from North Regional Masters University category to National Liberal Arts College category, Saint Michael’s entered a much more competitive, much larger category of colleges. The rankings, which include some 1,400 schools nationwide, are available today at www.usnews.com/colleges(link is external), will also be published in the September issue of the U.S.News & World Report magazine, on newsstands starting August 20th.Saint Michael s ranking, at 105th, ties with Goucher, Hampshire, Hanover, Hollins, and Presbyterian Colleges and Ohio Wesleyan University. Saint Michael s position was bolstered by an excellent graduation rate, freshman retention rate, percentage of full-time faculty, and SAT scores. Saint Michael s ranked in the top 15 of the North Regional Masters Universities category for 17 years, prior to changing categories. We continue to be pleased that we find ourselves among a good group of schools in the country, said Jerry Flanagan, Saint Michael s vice president for enrollment and admission. We feel that in times when families are making decisions about college they will continue to see the consistent value of a Saint Michael s College education that focuses on development of the whole person, through our strong academic and extracurricular program, he said. The University of Vermont ranked 88th in the National Universities category and Middlebury ranked fourth in the Liberal Arts Colleges national category. Champlain College ranked 13th in the North Region Baccalaureate Colleges.Extensive analysis shows that rankings closely parallel the financial endowment level of thecolleges and universities throughout the country. According to U.S. News, rankings for Best Liberal Arts Colleges are based on the following data: peer assessment, 25%; graduation and retention rates, 20%; faculty resources 20%; student selectivity, 15%; financial resources 10%; alumni giving 5%, and graduation rate performance 5%.Included in the prestigious Princeton Review Best 371 Colleges: 2010 EditionSaint Michael’s College is included in the Princeton Review s The Best 371Colleges: 2010 Edition, and is one of the 270 institutions nationwide allowed to host a chapter of the national honor society, Phi Beta Kappa, on its campus. Saint Michael s is also ranked 2nd for Great Town-Gown Relations and 9th for Best Quality of Life in the Princeton Review.Why Saint Michael s changed categoriesU.S. News uses the categories for colleges created by The Carnegie Foundation, which invited Saint Michael s to switch from the Northern Regional Masters University to the National Liberal Arts Colleges category in the winter of 2006. A determination was made that Saint Michael s fit better into that category because undergraduate liberal arts is the core of Saint Michael s program. The invitation to make this change was offered to some 90 institutions that offer master s degrees, but whose profiles showed affinity with the traditional undergraduate college model in terms of size, residential level, and size of undergraduate and graduate programs.Saint Michael s College, www.smcvt.edu(link is external), is a distinctive Catholic liberal arts college that provides an education with a social conscience, producing graduates with the intellectual tools they need to lead a successful, purposeful life that will contribute to peace and justice in our world. Founded in 1904 by the Society of St. Edmund and headed by President John J. Neuhauser, Saint Michael s is identified by the Princeton Review as one of the nation s Best 371 Colleges, ranking as 9th among institutions in Quality of Life and 2nd in Town-Gown Relations. It is one of 270 colleges and universities nationwide, and one of only 20 Catholic colleges, with a Phi Beta Kappa chapter on campus. Saint Michael s has 2,000 full-time undergraduate students, some 500 graduate students and 200 international students. In recent years, Saint Michael s students and professors have received Rhodes, Woodrow Wilson, Pickering, Guggenheim, Fulbright, National Science Foundation and other grants, and its professors have been named Vermont Professor of the Year in four of the last nine years. The college is listed as one of the nation s Best Liberal Arts Colleges in the 2009 U.S. News & World Report rankings. Saint Michael s is located just outside of Burlington, Vermont, one of America s top college towns. read more
Vermont Electric Cooperative, Inc,Vermont Electric Cooperative, Inc. (VEC) announced today that the Vermont Public Service Board (VPSB) has approved VEC’s revised request for a 2.13 percent rate increase to go into effect January 1, 2011. In November, the Co-op filed a request for a 2.71 percent rate increase, but agreed with the Department of Public Service (DPS) to a rate settlement of a reduced amount.The increase is primarily attributed to rising costs for transmission services which have impacted electric utilities throughout the region. Like all New England electric utilities, Vermont Electric Cooperative is required to share in the costs associated with regional transmission reliability projects to upgrade the aging New England electric grid, and to meet stricter federal reliability requirements. Another factor contributing to the request for a rate increase includes upgrades to VEC’s distribution system.‘While we acknowledge that any increase may be difficult for our members, this increase is necessary for the Co-op to continue to invest in our distribution system and to pay our share of the regional transmission costs,’ said Dave Hallquist, CEO. ‘While most other utilities are currently filing for significantly higher rate increases ranging from 3.1 to 30.76 percent, VEC, for the second year in a row has been able to keep those increases to a minimum,’ added Hallquist.Vermont Electric Cooperative currently rates highly for operating efficiently, ranking within the top four of Vermont’s twenty utilities for the number of consumers served per employee, despite having one of the most rural electrical systems in the state. System reliability measures have improved dramatically over the past three years with significant reductions in the frequency and duration of outages. Additionally, Vermont Electric Cooperative has met or exceeded customer service standards set by the VPSB such as how quickly member calls are answered, billing accuracy and system reliability.Under the proposed rate tariff, the monthly bill for an average residential member using 500 kilowatt hours per month will increase by $1.96, from $91.72 to $93.68. read more
Vermont Agency of Transportation Secretary Brian Searles is asking the public to stay away from the damaged areas in central and southern Vermont. ‘Our road crews, private contractors and National Guard are all working very hard to repair the damage wrought by Irene. The last thing we need are sightseer’s taking pictures of the damage and getting in the way of recovery efforts. We lost several hours of work yesterday allowing cars through the construction zone, many with out of state licensees,’ stated Searles. ‘All we are asking is for people to stay away from the damaged areas if you don’t live there,’ continued Searles. These roads which have recently opened are ongoing construction projects and the public should expect long delays to get through these construction zones. ‘We are racing against the clock to get these roads ready for winter and we are going to manage these sites to accomplish that goal,’ remarked Searles. ‘If you aren’t a full time resident of these areas you could be sitting at a check point for a very long time. I would suggest an alternate route, there are many undamaged roads in Vermont for tourists to come enjoy’ continued Searles. The map with the most recent updates of the state system, can be found at www.aot.state.vt.us(link is external)VTrans 9.4.2011 read more
At the 5x5x5 Growth awards on September 15, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin took the occasion to not only acknowledge the Vermont companies being recognized for their five-year growth, but in the midst of Tropical Storm Irene recovery, he talked about the spirit of Vermonters that has led to such a fast recovery from the devestation left by the August 28th storm.Irene photos contained in the video were taken by Steve Costello of CVPS, and VBM reporters Ed Barna, Robert Smith and Joyce Marcel. The video was shot by Nick Rivers.Vermont Business Magazine and KeyBank celebrated the achievements of the five fastest growing businesses in five categories over the last five years in Vermont at the DoubleTree in South Burlington. The 25 extraordinary companies are listed below. AllEarth Renewables had the distinction of being the fastest overall company with 5,250 percent growth over five years.The keynote Speaker was Janette Bombardier, site director of IBM in Essex Junction, who spoke on the constant need to innovate. She talked about how IBM, celebrating its centennial, has always sought to innovate in order to thrive. From the DRAM computer chips, made in Vermont, which forever changed the computer memory industry around the world, to the now-common bar code that revolutionized the retail industry.Also speaking was Martha Maksym of the United Way of Chittenden County and Governor Shumlin, who was able to break away from his schedule to congratulate the winners and to offer remarks on how the Vermont spirit has led to a speedy recovery from Tropical Storm Irene. Photos: Janette Bombardier and Bob Zider. Governor Shumlin. Category winners below. Photos by Nino Abbott. 2011 5x5x5 Award RecipientsConstructionReArch Company, LLC | 429%TFM Construction | 151%Denis White Interior Contractors, Inc | 88%Spates Construction, Inc | 73%Naylor & Breen Builders, Inc | 33% EnergyAll Earth Renewables | 5,250%Global Resource Options, Inc | 374%Vermont Electric Power Company | 257%NRG Systems Inc. | 109%Washington Electric Cooperative | 36%ManufacturingGreen Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc | 740%North Hartland Tool Corp | 600%MicroStrain, Inc | 198%King Arthur Flour Company | 84%Harbour Industries Inc | 60%ServiceChoice Stategies | 410%VHB | 250%TPW Management LLC |213%The RehabGYM Inc | 210%Dore & Whittier Architects | 149%TechnologyDealer.com | 1,188%ASIC North Inc | 330%Logic Supply Inc | 156%BioTek Instruments | 107%Control Technologies Inc | 81% read more