Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott filed his petition this morning to be placed on the ballot for re-election as Vermont’s second-in-command. Scott seeks his second term as Lieutenant Governor.All candidates for statewide office are required to submit 500 signatures to be placed on the ballot. Lt. Gov. Scott’s petition contained the names of more than 800 Vermonters supporting his candidacy.”I’ve really enjoyed serving Vermonters in the Lieutenant Governor’s office, and I would be honored to have the opportunity to continue for another two years,” Scott said. “I thank each and every one of the 811 Vermonters who signed up to support my candidacy, and I look forward to offering further updates from the campaign trail this fall.” Source: Scott’s office, 6.14.2012. Photo. Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott, center, confers with Senators Campbell, left, and Bloomer during this past year’s session. vtdigger file photo.
by Bruce Lisman What can we learn, and how can we move forward, from Energizers decision to close their Franklin County facility? They have been clear that Vermont is on the unfortunate side of a re-structuringsales of batteries made at the plant are declining. Theyve chosen to close plants in two states and Malaysia, while consolidating manufacturing in Singapore, a country with low tax rates and a transparent regulatory framework. It hurts. It hurts employees and their families, financially and emotionally. It will hurt other local businesses. And it hurts our ability to reduce poverty and combat drug abuse. And, it will take time to find new jobs to fill that building. Naturally, we want to have as many homegrown businesses as possible. But the reality of the global market place is that companies like Energizer, or IBM, which have traditionally provided good manufacturing jobs, are headquartered elsewhere. In fact, a significant segment of our private sector jobs are provided by companies that are headquartered some other place. Energizer and other companies doing business here face challenges like fierce competition, sluggish pricing, and a need to become more efficient. Economic growth in Asia is slowing; Europe is in recession, and America grows at half the rate necessary to reduce unemployment. It has been reported that Energizer isnt leaving because of the business climate here. They politely declined relief on electricity costs (among the highest in the Nation), or workforce training (that has slipped far behind other states programs), or economic incentives. And, newspapers reported that the Governor spoke with Energizer at least twice after their intentions became known. We want our Governor to be active with our employers, so thats good. Still, this is an important wake-up call and an important opportunity to strengthen the job creation, and job retention, strategy of our state. We are not disconnected from the economy outside of Vermont and, while we continue to cultivate local business, the influence of the global economy will remain significant. Public policy here matters. It isnt a question of whether we are unfriendly toward business or whether a departing employer would actually say that they are leaving for that reason. It is a question of whether were adequately and innovatively applying the advantages Vermont does have and adapting to real changes in the economy that are impacting the lives of working Vermonters. Our Governor is focused on jobsevery governor is. We have an exceptional network of economic development efforts, including among the best in St Albans. They know the local markets and employers in the market. But, no one systematically calls on our largest non-Vermont based employers. No one regularly visits their headquarters; no one builds relationships with key decisions makers about expansion and relocation. We should have a team of people focused on this relationship building activity; individuals who come to understand the companys needs, what drives their decision making, and how to help when they share their challenges. So its too late to offer ideasand to prevent job losseswhen a company is thinking of leaving or has decided to leave. Lets start by re-deploying some efforts at the State level. Instead of thinking about Economic Development as a package of economic incentives, lets develop an array of people who do nothing but call on our non-Vermont companies and give them tools to be nimble and responsive to employers. Lets develop relationships with employers; lets develop shared views of their challenges and their goals and how it relates to Vermonters. Lets send Vermonters out into the marketplace to sell Vermont as the welcoming place to create jobs that we know it can be. The Governor did the right thing: He called the company and asked them to re-consider. Lets do another right thing; lets put the right tools in our job creation toolbox. Weve been caught flat-footed too many times. Lets not let it happen again.About the Author: Bruce Lisman was born in the old North end and raised in Burlington; he attended Burlington High School, and graduated from the University of Vermont. Mr. Lisman launched Campaign for Vermont; an advocacy organization that promotes economic opportunity to improve the quality of life for current and future generations of Vermonts.
by Anne Galloway March 22, 2013 vtdigger.org The House Ways and Means Committee approved a bill on Friday that would increase taxes by $23.3 million next year and an additional $25 million in fiscal year 2015 (for a combined total of $48 million in new revenues for 2015).The legislation increases the meal tax by 0.5 percent (from 9 percent to 9.5 percent) for one year. It also removes a sales tax exemption on soda, candy, bottled water, dietary supplements, vitamins, vending machine food and clothing purchases of $110 or more. Cigarette taxes go up by 50 cents a pack under the plan. The proposals, if enacted, would go into effect immediately.Of the $23.3 million generated, $3.3 million will go into a reserve fund, as requested by the House Appropriations Committee, according to Rep. Janet Ancel, chair of House Ways and Means.Lawmakers also approved a three-pronged change to the income tax for fiscal year 2015. The bill puts a cap on itemized deductions, reduces the number of tax brackets from five to four and introduces a ‘ pull up’ for upper income taxpayers.The total increases of $48 million in 2015 are counterbalanced by a repeal of the employer health care assessment of $15 million and a potential repeal of a 0.5 percent meals tax, totaling $4.2 million. These overall reduction in 2015 total $19.2 million. The net new revenue that year would be $6 million.Ancel said the committee’ s tax proposal ‘ raises less revenue than the governor recommended in his budget.’‘ His budget included more than $34 million, and we are recommending new FY14 revenue of $23 million,’ she said. ‘ We also had discussions with the Appropriations Committee about the need to put anything over the $20 million we had targeted into reserves, and we are pleased to see that’ s what happened. No one wants to pay additional taxes but we focused on those most able to pay and on things that are discretionary such as candy, soda and cigarettes. We didn’ t raise tax rates and we didn’ t take money from low income working families. Every member of the committee had to make compromises and as a result our tax package is balanced and I believe it maintains equity and fairness.’The proposal raises an additional $20 million next year as part of an attempt to eliminate a persistent $50 million gap between state spending and tax revenues. During the Great Recession, that gap was much wider, in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and federal stimulus funds were used to close the hole. In 2011, those federal dollars began to dwindle. Simultaneously, state tax revenues slowly rebounded. But over the last several years, tax receipts haven’ t come back to projected levels, and year after year, the executive and legislative branches have used ‘ one-time money,’ that is temporary funding from a variety of sources to cover the gap. This year the Shumlin administration is using about $50 million in one-time funds to pay for base budget spending. That means next year will begin with a $50 million shortfall unless the economy recovers more quickly than expected.The legislative tax proposals will be voted on in the full House next week. The package is designed to replace Gov. Peter Shumlin’ s revenue package, which included a $17 million cut to the Earned Income Tax Credit program and another $17 million from a 10 percent tax on ‘ break open’ tickets, a form of charity raffle. The new revenue streams were designed to pay for $46 million in new expenditures on subsidies for childcare, a 3 percent reduction in the Medicaid cost shift to providers, funding for higher education, premium subsidies for Catamount Health and VHAP patients and a new thermal efficiency program.The Legislature rejected both of the governor’ s primary funding sources ‘ EITC and break open tickets ‘ for the new programs.The governor returned the favor on Friday when he issued a statement bashing the committee’ s tax proposals.‘ I know that the House is working hard on the FY14 budget, and while I appreciate that they support funding many of my priorities, I disagree strongly with the manner in which the Ways and Means Committee has chosen to raise revenue,’ Shumlin said. ‘ I have repeatedly opposed increases to income, meals, and sales taxes, and yet this proposal hits all three. Rather than reallocating existing funds more efficiently to achieve better outcomes as my budget recommends, the committee proposal increases Vermont’ s already high tax burden. Luckily, we are only part way through this legislative session and I look forward to working with the legislature to ensure that we end up with a responsible budget acceptable to all of us.’Lawmakers at one point on Friday morning contemplated a provision that would have tapped about $8.4 million in EITC money instead of the 0.5 percent meals tax. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Canaan, pitched the idea, and it failed 5-6 in a straw poll vote. Several committee members, including Rep. Jeff Wilson, D-Manchester, said they could support taking $1 million to $2 million from the EITC program. The chair of the committee, Rep. Janet Ancel is adamantly opposed to any EITC cuts because she says it would hurt families that are already struggling financially.The final proposal, which includes a one year sunset of the meals tax increase, passed 8-3. Reps. Johnson, Adam Greshin, I-Warren, and Patti Komline, R-Dorset, voted against the sales, meals and income tax package.The House Ways and Means Committee had been looking at structural changes to the income tax code, including:‘¢ A cap on mortgage deductions of $10,000 or $15,000 or $20,000; these three proposals would generate $7.3 million or $3.2 million or $1.78 million, respectively. The $10,000 cap would impact 21,618 in-state income tax filers out of 77,341 residents who claim the mortgage deduction on Vermont tax forms and 3,795 out-of-state income tax filers out of a total of 12,895. The $15,000 cap would affect 6,770 in-state income tax filers out of 77,341, and 1,685 of 12,895 out-of-state filers. The $20,000 cap would impact 2,581 in-state income tax filers out of 77,341 Vermont residents, and 855 out-of-state income tax filers out of 12,895.‘¢ Reducing the capital gains exclusion from 40 percent to 20 percent, which would raise $5.2 million‘¢ Eliminating the bottom tax bracket in the state’ s five-tiered income tax system for upper income Vermonters, which would raise $2.6 million‘¢ A reduction in the production deduction tax for manufacturers, $4.5 million‘¢ Placing a cap on all itemized deductions at two times the standard deduction rate or three times the standard deduction rate. This proposal, which would affect charitable contributions, would generate $26.9 million or $13.2 million respectively. Rep. Ancel says the change would have an impact on less than one-fifth of the tax breaks for donations to charities; she says most of the tax benefit comes from the federal deduction.Speaker Smith says he could support a mortgage deduction cap, a 20 percent reduction in the capital gains exclusion and a change to the bottom income tax rate for upper income taxpayers.
Secretary of State Jim Condos announced today that State Archivist Tanya Marshall has appointed Mary Ide of Brattleboro, Leah Korce of Huntington, and Brian Lindner of Waterbury to the Vermont Historical Records Advisory Board (VHRAB). ‘ Mary, Leah, and Brian each have a great amount of professional expertise and a diversity of experience related to archives and records management. We are very excited that they will be lending their talents to the board,’ Condos said. Ide recently retired as the Director of the Media Library and Archives at WGBH Boston where she served for more than fifteen years. She also is a past president of the New England Archivists ‘ the largest organization of archival professionals in the region. Prior to joining WGBH, she held school library positions in Danville, Cabot, and at Lyndon State College. She has devoted much of her professional life to serving on various boards and committees dedicated to archives, libraries and education. Korce is the Information Management Officer for the Agency of Education. She holds a Juris Doctor from the Vermont Law School and her previous work includes positions with the Office of Vermont Secretary of State, Vermont Department of Health Access, and the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights. Apart from her passion for history, she brings to the board extensive expertise regarding legal issues affecting access to records and information. Lindner, who worked as Director of Conservation Strategies for the National Life Group for 32 years, also serves as their corporate historian. He has worked in a similar capacity for the Stowe Mountain Resort and is a former president of the Waterbury Historical Society. He has researched and written numerous articles on military, military aviation, and general history. Authorized under the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), VHRAB coordinates grants and programs that provide support to Vermont’ s archives. Its members are drawn from archives, historical societies, colleges and universities, museums, and other Vermont cultural institutions and organizations. The board is part of the Vermont State Archives and Records Administration, a division within the Office of Secretary of State.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the Vermont Agency of Agriculture (VAAFM) as the recipient of an $88,500 matching grant under the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP), one of the largest awards for the highly competitive 2013 program. VAAFM, in collaboration with Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing (VDTM), University of Vermont Extension, Shelburne Farms, and Vermont Agricultural and Culinary Tourism Council (VT-ACT), will utilize this funding to amplify the economic impacts and mitigate risks of agricultural and culinary tourism for Vermont farms. The grant will fund capacity development and risk management for producers offering on-farm experiences, with attention to research and evaluation of economic impacts and farm profitability from engaging in agritourism activity. VAAFM and VDTM will utilize grant funds to implement coordinated marketing campaigns to drive visitors to farm and food businesses offering authentic agricultural and culinary experiences. Additionally, the grant will fund leadership and network development for VT-ACT to ensure the sharing of best practices and reinforce strong statewide agricultural organizations. ‘Agritourism is an important strategy for promoting agricultural diversification and farm viability,’ Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross said. ‘Vermont is a leader in community-based agriculture, and this represents yet another way that we are promoting agricultural literacy among visitors and Vermonters alike.’ In 2013, FSMIP Projects total funding is $1,234,690 with average grant allotments of $68,594. Overall, 18 FSMIP projects will be represented across 15 states. ‘The joint efforts between the Agency of Agriculture, statewide agricultural organizations and VDTM have reaped a significant award for the future of Vermont agritourism,’ Megan Smith, Commissioner of VDTM said. ‘Especially when compared to the grants received by larger states, this funding is yet another testament that Vermont is a leader in this field.’ VAAFM facilitates, supports and encourages the growth and viability of agriculture in Vermont while protecting the working landscape, human health, animal health, plant health, consumers and the environment. Visit www.VermontAgriculture.com(link is external) VDTM works to promote Vermont’s travel, recreation, cultural and historic attractions, as well as the state’s goods and services, in coordination with public and private sector partners and to market to a global audience in a manner consistent with the values and traditions of the state for the economic benefit of all Vermonters. Find industry information at www.vermontpartners.com(link is external) and traveler information at www.vermontvacation.com(link is external). Since 1976, USDA’s Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program has partnered with states across the country to support 943 projects that exemplify marketing innovation. Visit www.ams.usda.gov/FSMIP(link is external) for a complete list of this year’s projects.
Vermont Law School,Vermont Law School has partnered with Cheyney University of Pennsylvania(link is external), founded in 1837 as the Institute for Colored Youth and recognized as the nation’s oldest historically black institution of higher education, to continue its effort to expand racial and ethnic diversity in the legal profession.In addition to Cheyney, Vermont Law has partnership agreements(link is external) with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) Morehouse College(link is external) and Spelman College(link is external) in Atlanta, Ga., and Central State University(link is external) in Wilberforce, Ohio.Each partnership is tailored to the interests of the college or university. The partnerships with Cheyney, Morehouse and Spelman are designed to facilitate admission of qualified students to law school in general and Vermont Law in particular. The agreement with Central State, however, is designed to attract prospective students to the school’s environmental program, which is rated No. 1(link is external) in the nation.“These Historically Black Colleges and Universities have long histories of promoting racial justice,” said Shirley Jefferson ’86(link is external), dean of student affairs and diversity at Vermont Law. “We’re confident their students will do well at Vermont Law, where our commitment to developing leaders who make a difference in the world underscores everything we do.”As with the other agreements, to participate in the partnership, Cheyney applicants must have a cumulative undergraduate grade point average of 3.2 and a strong showing on the LSAT. They also must pass annual fitness and character reviews, and demonstrate participation in volunteer service and leadership activities. If accepted, students receive scholarships from $5,000 up to full tuition for their first two semesters at Vermont Law. The law school plans to continue the scholarships in future semesters for students who remain in good standing.“I am very proud of this collaboration,” said Cheyney President Dr. Michelle Howard-Vital(link is external). “Vermont Law School is first in the nation in environmental law, and offers master’s programs in environmental policy. This is a great opportunity for talented students at Cheyney University. I look forward to the first student taking advantage of this opportunity.”Vermont Law School, a private, independent institution, has the top-ranked environmental law program and one of the top-ranked clinical training programs in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. VLS offers a Juris Doctor curriculum that emphasizes public service; two Master’s Degrees (Master of Environmental Law and Policy, and Master of Energy Regulation and Law), and three post-JD degrees — LLM in American Legal Studies (for foreign-trained lawyers), LLM in Energy Law, and LLM in Environmental Law. The school features innovative experiential programs and is home to the Environmental Law Center, the South Royalton Legal Clinic, and the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic. For more information, visit www.vermontlaw.edu(link is external), find us on Facebook(link is external), and follow us on Twitter(link is external).SOUTH ROYALTON, Vt., April 21, 2014––Vermont Law School
Vermont Electric Cooperative, Inc,Vermont Electric Cooperative, based in Johnson, announced at its annual meeting that all three incumbents will rejoin the board following the results of director elections. A total of 1,556 VEC members cast ballots for the annual election. Results for three director elections were announced on Saturday morning at the 76th annual meeting of the VEC membership which was attended by about 200 VEC members at Smugglers’ Notch Resort in Jeffersonville.Three positions on the VEC board of directors were up for election. In total, seven candidates vied for the director seats which each carry a four-year term.In VEC’s District 3, incumbent Carol Maroni of Crafstbury was re-elected. Maroni received 373 votes, while Chuck Farrar received 122 votes and John Klar received 114 votes. Maroni represents members in the towns of Albany, Crafstbury, Glover, Greensboro, Irasburg, Jay, Lowell, Newport Town, Troy and Westfield.Incumbent Mark Woodward of Johnson ran unopposed in District 4 and received 334 votes. Woodward represents VEC members in the towns of Bakersfield, Belvidere, Cambridge, Eden, Fairfax, Fletcher, Hyde Park, Johnson, Morristown, Stowe and Waterville.In VEC’s District 5, incumbent Michelle DaVia of Westford won the election with 299 votes. Two other candidates ran for the seat with Caleb Elder receiving 207 votes and Andrew Doe receiving 97 votes. DaVia represents members in the towns of Bolton, Essex, Hinesburg, Huntington, Jericho, Milton, Richmond, Shelburne, Starksboro, St. George, Underhill, Westford and Williston.In addition to receiving the election results, attendees heard reports from President Tom Bailey, Secretary Michelle DaVia, and CFO Mike Bursell who delivered a report on behalf of Treasurer John Ward. Presentations included highlights and challenges from the preceding year.A main theme was the impact of the December 2013 ice storm, which resulted in the most expensive power restoration effort in VEC’s history. Bursell reported that FEMA support is expected to significantly reduce the burden of the $6.4 million storm to VEC. CEO Dave Hallquist delivered a presentation warning that with changing weather patterns the Co-op is preparing for the possibility of larger outage events, and encouraged members to take steps to prepare their households and businesses.VEC 5.17.2014
Vermont Business Magazine Farmers from across the state are voicing their concern about how new policies would impact solar and other renewable energy on Vermont farms. More than 40 farmers wrote to lawmakers and government officials today, stating, “We are concerned about policies being developed in Montpelier that could negatively impact our ability to affordably use, and host, solar and other renewable energy projects on our farms.””Vermont farmers have a proud tradition of turning the sun’s energy into productive use. Producing clean renewable energy is an increasingly vital part of Vermont’s modern agricultural economy,” the farmers said.Bruce Nelson, a dairy farmer in Ryegate, explained, “Our family’s business has been harvesting sunlight through our animals, through our dairy cows, for 200 years, We’re turning sunlight into a product that people can use and enjoy. Solar generation is just harvesting sunlight, and I think that fits into our business model.”The letter (SEE BELOW) cites renewable energy production helping diversify and stabilize farm income and keep land in agricultural production.The letter urges state officials — lawmakers, Administration officials, and the Public Service Board — to ensure that the property rights of working landscape owners are not diminished, allowing Vermont’s agriculture community to play a meaningful part in producing valuable renewable resources, while enhancing farm viability. Further the letter cites ensuring that farmers receive fair compensation for clean energy produced on their land and to protect farms from new fees.In an op-ed piece (Bray: Giving Vermonters greater voice in our energy future), state Senator Christopher Bray (D-Addison County), lead author of S230 said, “S230 offers Vermonters — through their towns and regional planning commissions—a much higher level of influence, “substantial deference,” provided that the town or region has worked with the state and been certified as a partner working to meet Vermont’s overall energy goals. A certified town plan, when being considered by the PSB, must be honored unless the board determines that there is clear evidence that the general good of the state outweighs the plan. This is a very high threshold for the board to surpass.”And it’s a game changer for our state.”Whereas now the burden is on a town to demonstrate that its plan should override the public good associated with a project, under S230, the burden of proof shifts to require that the board demonstrate why a town plan that has already been certified as helping Vermont meet our renewable energy goals should be overridden.”However, farmers who want to install a renewable energy facility, typically solar PV, could be left out by townspeople who don’t want renewables or want them only in selected areas. The local utility, depending how the legislation proceeds, could put limits or fees on, or eliminate, net metering (the sale of excess generation).”We believe Vermont’s renewable energy and agricultural economies are complementary…we are proud to be doing our part for future generations by providing Vermont-made renewable energy and reducing our dependence on out-of-state fossil fuels,” the farmers concluded.VERY TOP PHOTO of Champlain Orchards.
by Annette Smith In his May 25 Letter to the Editor(link is external) to the Rutland Herald, Peter Yankowski asked House Speaker and Lieutenant Governor candidate Shap Smith to explain his relationship with renewable energy developer David Blittersdorf, his partner Ritchie Berger’s complaint filed against me with the Vermont Attorney General, and the apparent conflict of interest that has resulted in the refusal of the House under Speaker Smith’s leadership to pass meaningful renewable energy regulation. I met with Speaker Smith in December 2015 and noted that for six years the towns, neighbors and public have been shut out of even having a conversation in the House about the need for standards and a better process for siting renewable energy. The sole purpose of the meeting was to ask how we were going to move forward in addressing the issues with renewable energy in the upcoming session. His response: “We’re not.” I put the letters from an attorney at Dinse, Knapp & McAndrew, Shap Smith’s law firm, to towns attempting to get their correspondence with me in front of him, and noted that his firm was intimidating towns that were attempting to participate at the Public Service Board. His response was to push the letters back at me, noting that he saw them already when I posted them on vtdigger.org(link is external). What I posted along with the letters was that the Speaker appeared to have a conflict of interest. Speaker Smith did not to address the conflict of interest issue in our meeting. Most importantly, he did not say that he had a firewall with his law firm, nor did he say that there was no concern over conflict of interest because he had a system in place to address it. Apparently there was no system or firewall. As far as I can tell, as a managing partner and owner Shap Smith makes money on all his firm’s activities, so whatever claims he might make about not being involved in the details of what his partners are doing is ducking rather than responding to the question. Shap Smith’s firm represents David Blittersdorf and as long as Shap Smith has been Speaker of the House, he was in a position to advance his firm’s client’s interests or not. Under Shap Smith’s leadership the renewable industry interests were well served. The people affected by them got stonewalled, ignored, accused of being climate change deniers, anti-renewable, and got nothing. There was no balance. It was a one way street promoting the renewable industrialist’s agenda. What I did not know at the time of that December meeting was that Ritchie Berger, Shap’s law firm partner, had already filed the complaint against me with the Attorney General’s office. I wonder if Shap Smith knew. Fortunately the AG found the complaint was without merit and closed the investigation. What we do know is that despite the Shumlin administration and key legislators’ efforts to assure that nothing about wind energy got into S.230, the “energy siting” bill, a section to address wind turbine noise pollution did get into the legislation. Language that would have required the PSB to do rule-making to establish sound standards passed the House unanimously. Representative Kesha Ram (also running for lieutenant governor), vice-chair of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee, told the Senate Natural Resources and Energy committee that the wind noise piece was the main reason for the unanimous vote in the House. The Senate overwhelmingly supported S.230 with the wind turbine noise rulemaking requirement. In the final days of the session, all of a sudden Representative Tony Klein, who Speaker Smith reappointed year after year to chair the key House Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, had problems with the wind turbine noise language in S230. By-passing his own attorney from legislative council, Representative Klein consulted via phone with the same AG William Griffin who chose to act on Ritchie Berger’s complaint against me. No written determination responsive to Representative Klein’s concerns was issued. However, after Representative Klein met with the Shumlin administration, word was that if the wind language in the bill stayed, Governor Shumlin would veto the bill. On the last day of the session, the bill was changed to satisfy the Governor. Again it passed the House unanimously. Now Governor Shumlin has vetoed S230. Speaker Smith says he will call the legislature back to address the veto, with the possibility of “fixing” the bill. The proposed “fix” is being promoted by VPIRG and contains yet more gifts to special interests, with nothing protective for present or future wind turbine neighbors. S230 directs the PSB to adopt temporary rules for wind turbine noise under §844(a) which says, “Where an agency believes that there exists an imminent peril to public health, safety, or welfare, it may adopt an emergency rule.” The bill does not and never did include anything to help the people living with the noise pollution from existing wind projects. Hundreds more Vermonters are threatened with a real emergency: excessive noise pollution that has already driven people from their homes, made people sick, caused some to sell at a loss, while others are unable to sell at all. S230 does need fixing. The legislature should set a sound standard that is protective of public health and stop passing the buck to the PSB with its record of proven failure to protect public health. The legislature should require sound monitoring for existing and future projects. (What good is a speed limit without enforcement?) And the legislature should give town and regional plans substantial deference before the PSB. Those would be meaningful changes to S.230 that would make a real difference for Vermonters. Instead, we are poised to see Speaker Shap Smith keep his promise that “we’re not” going to see any legislation addressing renewable energy siting standards passed in this session come true. David Blittersdorf will be happy.
Vermont Business Magazine Renewable Energy Vermont in partnership with the Renewable Energy Resource Center, a project of Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, have launched a new resource for Vermonters looking to install solar photovoltaic panels (PV), solar hot water systems, or modern wood pellet boilers. The project was made possible due to funding from the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund (CEDF). The Vermont Renewable Energy Business Listing (VREBL) located online at www.revermont.org/vrebl/(link is external) offers a detailed, one stop listing of experts ready to help homeowners, farmers, and businesses affordably reduce climate pollution and save money with clean energy solutions. “The new online Renewable Energy Business Listing details more than 70 local businesses offering expert advice and experience in helping Vermont property owners increase their energy independence by installing renewable energy solutions,” stated Ansley Bloomer, Renewable Energy Vermont Assistant Director.The online tool enables consumers to find a renewable energy installer near them, as well as compare company experience and qualifications. Consumers may search the list by technology type, business location, installation experience, and other credentials. “With net metering rates set to change starting in 2017, and new incentives for modern wood heat now available, it’s a good time for Vermont homeowners and businesses to consider installing clean energy solutions,” encouraged Bloomer.The new tool is one of several ways that Renewable Energy Vermont (REV) aims to help consumers make informed choices about their energy future. REV’s website also includes an informed buyer guide – www.revermont.org/resources/how-to-be-an-informed-buyer/(link is external) and other resources for electricity consumers.Installers of solar PV panels, solar hot water and wood pellet boilers who are not already listed may contact REV at [email protected](link sends e-mail) in order to obtain an application form to join the listing.Source: REV 7.26.2016. Renewable Energy Vermont represents businesses, non-profits, utilities, and individuals committed to reducing our reliance on dirty fossil fuels by increasing clean renewable energy and energy efficiency in Vermont. Vermont’s clean energy economy supports at least 17,700 sustainable jobs at 2,519 businesses, representing approximately 6% of Vermont’s workforce. Together, we will achieve 90% total renewable energy (electric, thermal, transportation) by 2050.