Efficiency Vermont, Vermont Gas Systems earn award for protecting environment

first_imgThe US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recognized Efficiency Vermont and Vermont Gas Systems with a 2012 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Award for their outstanding contributions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by delivering information and services to their customers to increase energy efficiency. Award winners were selected from about 20,000 organizations that participate in the ENERGY STAR program. This is the second consecutive year in which the EPA has honored the Vermont ENERGY STAR Homes program.Efficiency Vermont and Vermont Gas Systems, ENERGY STAR partners since 1997 and 2001 respectively, are being honored for their work to increase the market share of energy-efficient ENERGY STAR qualified homes through comprehensive outreach, education and marketing programs. Efficiency Vermont provides comprehensive energy efficiency services to residential buildings in Vermont. In areas served by natural gas, Vermont Gas Systems provides additional support for homes working to achieve ENERGY STAR Homes recognition. Together, the organizations provide technical assistance and financial incentives to help Vermont households reduce energy costs through energy efficient lighting, pre-construction consultation, and renovation incentives. Their coordinated efforts to build the market for ENERGY STAR Homes have resulted in a dramatic increase in program participation, with over 500 Vermont homes currently enrolled.Over the past 20 years, American families and businesses have saved nearly $230 billion on utility bills and prevented greenhouse gas emissions equal to those from more than 350 million vehicles with help from ENERGY STAR.”This award recognizes the great strides that Vermont has made to improve the efficiency of newly-constructed homes,” said Chris Gordon, residential new construction manager for Efficiency Vermont. “The entire Vermont building community has put in a great deal of effort to make this success possible. We look forward to continuing our work with them to help even more Vermonters benefit from energy efficient homes.””Vermont Gas is honored to have been recognized with Efficiency Vermont by the EPA for this prestigious and timely award,” said Don Gilbert, President and CEO of Vermont Gas. “Energy efficiency programs continue to be our most effective strategy for reducing energy costs and lowering emissions. We look forward to helping Vermont in the coming years to achieve an even cleaner environment through the expansion of our natural gas service and efficiency programs to more Vermonters, especially as we work to extend these services into Addison County,” Gilbert said.The ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Awards for Energy Efficiency Program Delivery are given to a variety of organizations in recognition of their efforts to improve energy efficiency and reduce pollution, resulting in significant cost savings. Their accomplishments will be recognized at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. on March 15, 2012, which marks the 20th anniversary of ENERGY STAR.”As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the ENERGY STAR program, EPA is proud to recognize Efficiency Vermont and Vermont Gas Systems with the 2012 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Award for Energy Efficiency Program Delivery,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “These organizations and all our ENERGY STAR award winners are helping Americans find cost-effective ways to save energy in everything we do, which is good for our climate, our health, and our future.”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. For more information, contact Efficiency Vermont at 888-921-5990 or visit www.efficiencyvermont.com(link is external).Vermont Gas Systems is Vermont’s sole provider of natural gas service for more than 45,000 residential and commercial customers in Chittenden and Franklin counties. Vermont Gas has provided comprehensive energy efficiency services for its customers since 1992.www.vermontgas.com(link is external)ENERGY STAR was introduced by the US Environmental Protection Agency in 1992 as a voluntary market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through increased energy efficiency. Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, ENERGY STAR offers businesses and consumers energy-efficient solutions to save energy, money and help protect the environment for future generations. About 20,000 organizations are ENERGY STAR partners committed to improving the energy efficiency of products, homes, buildings and businesses. For more information about ENERGY STAR, visit www.energystar.gov(link is external) or call toll-free 1-888-STAR-YES (1-888-782-7937). March 1, 2012 – Burlington, VTlast_img read more

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Entergy provides preliminary first quarter earnings guidance, Vermont Yankee ‘impairment’

first_imgNorthstar Vermont Yankee,Entergy Corporation (NYSE: ETR) today indicated that it expects first quarter 2012 financial results to reflect an as-reported loss of approximately $(0.87) per share and operational earnings of approximately $0.43 per share. First quarter 2012 results included two non-cash charges arising from an asset impairment (Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant) taken in accordance with financial accounting rules (classified as a special item discussed below) and a write-off of a regulatory asset associated with income taxes (included in operational results discussed below). Results for first quarter 2011 were $1.38 per share on both an as-reported basis and an operational basis. Entergy also updated its previously issued operational earnings guidance for 2012.As-reported results are prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and are comprised of operational earnings (described below) and special items. Special items were recorded in the first quarter of 2012 for:â ¢ the impairment in connection with the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant andâ ¢ expenses associated with the proposed spin-off and merger of Entergyâ s electric transmission business into ITC Holdings Corp. Under GAAP, power plants and other long-lived assets are generally required to be accounted for on a historical cost basis, unless a triggering event occurs which requires an impairment evaluation. In the case of Vermont Yankee, as described in our prior financial statement filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Entergy has performed quarterly impairment evaluations since early 2010, triggered by state actions to shut down the plant early. A number of factors and inputs are used in the Vermont Yankee impairment evaluation, including the status of pending legal and state regulatory matters, as well as assumptions about future revenues and costs of the plant. Under the accounting rules, these inputs are required to be estimated as of the end of each quarterly period. The decline in the overall energy market and forward price of energy at March 31, 2012, which is used as an input in the current accounting analysis, yielded a different impairment result now as compared to earlier quarters.The triggering event and impairment result are unique to Vermont Yankee. This impairment does not reflect a change in Entergyâ s point of view of the economic value of the plant assuming continued operation through 2032, nor does it impact the companyâ s continued commitment to invest to assure safe operations of the plant, which is always the top priority. It is also does not reflect a change in Entergyâ s point of view on the legal and state regulatory proceedings associated with obtaining certainty on continued operation of Vermont Yankee.UtilityThe quarter-over-quarter decrease in Utilityâ s operational earnings was due primarily to higher income tax expense and lower net revenue. The increase in income tax expense resulted from a first quarter 2012 non-cash adjustment of approximately $0.25 per share to write off a regulatory asset for income taxes to appropriately align the financial accounting treatment with the regulatory treatment of income taxes for certain items. This regulatory asset represented income tax expense currently reflected in rates, and as such, cannot be recovered in the future.Utility net revenue declined due to a significant unfavorable weather variance reducing sales volumes compared to the first quarter of 2011. Partially offsetting was growth in weather-adjusted sales volumes across the three customer classes. Higher non-fuel operation and maintenance expenses also contributed to the lower earnings results.Entergy Wholesale CommoditiesOn an operational basis, Entergy Wholesale Commodities’first quarter 2012 earnings were below the prior year period largely due to lower net revenue. This decline in EWCâ s net revenue was driven primarily by lower pricing associated with the nuclear fleet. Also contributing to the lower results was an increase in non-fuel operation and maintenance expenses.Parent & OtherParent & Otherâ s operational results declined during the quarter due to several individually insignificant items.Earnings GuidanceAs a result of the non-cash write-offs discussed above and significant unfavorable weather in the first quarter of 2012, Entergy updated its 2012 operational earnings guidance to be in the range of $4.85 to $5.65 per share. The revised operational guidance range also reflects previously identified challenges resulting from the lower-than-planned pension discount rate and other updated pension assumptions and lower market energy prices for EWCâ s open position, as well as opportunities to offset these challenges. Entergyâ s previous guidance range was $5.40 to $6.20 per share on an operational basis. As-reported earnings guidance for 2012 will be updated to reflect special items as reported throughout the year. Special items for the first quarter of 2012 are expected to total approximately $(1.30) per share.A teleconference will be held at 10 a.m. CT on Thursday, April 26, 2012, to discuss Entergyâ s first quarter 2012 earnings announcement, and may be accessed by dialing (719) 457-2080, confirmation code 4034210, no more than 15 minutes prior to the start of the call. The call and presentation slides can also be accessed via Entergyâ s website at www.entergy.com(link is external). A replay of the teleconference will be available for seven days thereafter by dialing (719) 457-0820, confirmation code 4034210.Entergy Corporation is an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, and it is the second-largest nuclear generator in the United States. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.8 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of more than $11 billion and approximately 15,000 employees.Additional investor information can be accessed online atwww.entergy.com/investor_relations(link is external). New Orleans, La. â  4.19.2012last_img read more

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Vermont ranks 49th in ‘competitiveness’ ranking

first_imgEconomic Performance RankTexasUtahWyomingNorth DakotaMontanaWashingtonNevadaArizonaOklahomaIdahoAlaskaNorth CarolinaOregonVirginiaSouth DakotaColoradoHawaiiWest VirginiaFloridaNebraskaArkansasSouth CarolinaNew MexicoIowaTennesseeDelawareGeorgiaKentuckyLouisianaAlabamaMarylandKansasMinnesotaNew HampshireNew YorkVermontPennsylvaniaIndianaMississippiMissouriMassachusettsMaineCaliforniaWisconsinConnecticutIllinoisRhode IslandNew JerseyOhioMichiganArlington, VA (April 15, 2014)—ALEC Used by state lawmakers across America since 2008, Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index, is authored by economist Dr. Arthur B. Laffer, former Wall Street Journal senior economics writer Stephen Moore and Jonathan Williams.“The report shows that states are taking responsibility for their own economic success and not waiting for direction from the federal government,” said report co-author and Heritage Foundation Chief Economist Stephen Moore. “The short story is, the states are leading the way in pro-growth, economic reforms.”“Rich States, Poor States clearly outlines the benefits that lower taxes, sound labor policies and spending restraints can have on the economic environments in the states,” said report co-author and economist Dr Arthur B Laffer. “It is a valuable resource for those who seek to promote economic growth in their own state.”To download a copy of Rich States, Poor States and to see individual state data, visit www.alec.org/rsps(link is external)2014 Economic Outlook RankUtah(link is external)South Dakota(link is external)Indiana(link is external)North Dakota(link is external)Idaho(link is external)North Carolina(link is external)Arizona(link is external)Nevada(link is external)Georgia(link is external)Wyoming(link is external)Virginia(link is external)Michigan(link is external)Texas(link is external)Mississippi(link is external)Kansas(link is external)Florida(link is external)Wisconsin(link is external)Alaska(link is external)Tennessee(link is external)Alabama(link is external)Oklahoma(link is external)Colorado(link is external)Ohio(link is external)Missouri(link is external)Iowa(link is external)Arkansas(link is external)Delaware(link is external)Massachusetts(link is external)Louisiana(link is external)West Virginia(link is external)South Carolina(link is external)New Hampshire(link is external)Pennsylvania(link is external)Maryland(link is external)Nebraska(link is external)Hawaii(link is external)New Mexico(link is external)Washington(link is external)Kentucky(link is external)Maine(link is external)Rhode Island(link is external)Oregon(link is external)Montana(link is external)Connecticut(link is external)New Jersey(link is external)Minnesota(link is external)California(link is external)Illinois(link is external)Vermont(link is external)New York(link is external) Utah again earns the top spot for states with the best economic outlook in 2014, followed by South Dakota, Indiana, North Dakota and Idaho, according to the newest edition of the Rich States, Poor States report(link is external) released by the American Legislative Exchange Council. The report also reveals that big reforms significantly helped Indiana, Michigan and North Carolina improve their national rankings this year. Illinois, Vermont and New York ranked last. Vermont ranked 50th in 2013.“The big story in our report this year is that fundamental tax and fiscal policy reforms significantly improved the economic competitiveness rankings of North Carolina, Indiana, and Michigan. These states are now better poised to realize real economic growth,” said Jonathan Williams, director of the American Legislative Exchange Council Center for State Fiscal Reform and co-author of Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic State Competitiveness Index.Rich States, Poor States examines the latest trends in state economic growth. The data ranks the 2014 economic outlook of states using 15 equally weighted policy variables, including various tax rates, regulatory burdens and labor policies. The seventh edition examines the trends over the last few decades that have helped or hurt states’ rankings, and states with low tax rates and right-to-work laws are more likely to have a better economic outlook.The 15 economic policy variables used by the authors to rank the economic outlook of states have shown over time to be among the most influential variables for state growth. The top ten and bottom ten states for 2014 are:Top 10 (states link to individual state data. SEE FULL RANKING BELOW.)1. Utah(link is external)2. South Dakota(link is external)3. Indiana(link is external)4. North Dakota(link is external)5. Idaho(link is external)6. North Carolina(link is external)7. Arizona(link is external)8. Nevada(link is external)9. Georgia(link is external)10. Wyoming(link is external)Bottom 10 41. Rhode Island(link is external)42. Oregon(link is external)43. Montana(link is external)44. Connecticut(link is external)45. New Jersey(link is external)46. Minnesota(link is external)47. California(link is external)48. Illinois(link is external)49. Vermont(link is external)50. New York(link is external)last_img read more

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Ai Squared gains partner in GW Micro

first_imgManchester, Vermont’s Ai Squared(link is external), the maker of ZoomText(link is external) and sitecues(link is external); and GW Micro(link is external) of Indiana, the creator of Window-Eyes, have merged into one company. With this merger, the companies will combine their talents to better assist computer users who are blind or visually impaired.ZoomText is the world’s number one screen magnifier and text-to-speech software package that allows people who are visually impaired to use a computer with ease. Window-Eyes is a popular screen reader that enables people who are blind to be fully independent on the computer by translating visual information into speech and/or Braille.”Our mission is to provide a full family of computer accessibility solutions for users who are low vision or blind, whether they access digital information via their desktop, the web or their mobile device,” said David Wu, CEO of Ai Squared. “Earlier this year, we commercially launched sitecues, a product which enables website owners to build accessibility tools right into their websites. Today’s merger with GW Micro rounds out our mantra of ‘We’ve got accessibility covered’ — with our combined forces, we can now deliver an even wider range of computer access solutions.”The need for assistive technology continues to grow. According to the World Health Organization, over 285 million people in the world are considered visually impaired; 39 million of those are blind, and 246 million have moderate to severe visual impairments. “The merger of Ai Squared and GW Micro brings together two companies that offer great solutions for the millions of Microsoft customers around the world who are blind or visually impaired,” said Rob Sinclair, Chief Accessibility Officer at Microsoft.”We are also delighted that Ai Squared will continue to develop and support the Window-Eyes for Office Offer as many of our customers rely on this screen reading solution to enable access to Windows, Office and other Microsoft products,” Sinclair said.Dan Weirich, Co-founder of GW Micro and now Vice President at Ai Squared, said he is thrilled to incorporate Window-Eyes into the Ai Squared product family.”It’s a natural fit,” Weirich said. “Combining our companies will strengthen Ai Squared’s global presence in the assistive technology industry, allowing us to serve even more customers.”Weirich noted that many customers using web and computer accessibility tools inevitably progress further along the visual impairment spectrum during their lifetime. As a result, they will require more advanced assistive technology as their needs change. With the merger, Ai Squared will be in a better position to assist those customers, developing products that provide a seamless transition and user experience as customers adapt to their changing vision.Ai Squared will continue to offer Window-Eyes and its related products as they were previously offered by GW Micro. In addition, a free and fully featured version of Window-Eyes will continue to be available via the Window-Eyes Offer for Users of Microsoft Office as part of the recently announced partnership with Microsoft and GW Micro. The GW Micro team will remain in Indiana as part of the Ai Squared team, which is headquartered in Vermont.About Ai Squared: Ai Squared (www.aisquared.com(link is external)) has been the worldwide leader in assistive technology solutions for people who are visually impaired for over 20 years. The product line is available in over 20 languages and sold in 45 countries through a network of over 350 global distributors. Ai Squared’s screen magnification and screen-reading products dramatically improve a computer’s usability and friendliness for users who are blind or low vision, raising their level of productivity, satisfaction, and independence. The family of Ai Squared products includes ZoomText, ZoomText Large-Print Keyboard, ZoomText ImageReader, ZoomText Mac, Window-Eyes, sitecues, the ZoomReader iOS app, and the ZoomContacts iPad app.About GW Micro: GW Micro, Inc. (www.gwmicro.com(link is external)) has been a trusted pioneer in the assistive technology industry since 1990; it has led with innovative, customer-driven solutions, and the GW Micro team has always been proud of its description as the Voice of Vision.Source: MANCHESTER, VT and FORT WAYNE, IN–(Marketwired – May 01, 2014) – Ai Squared(link is external)last_img read more

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Vermont gets $46 million USDA guaranteed loan for new energy efficiency program

first_imgVermont Business Magazine A new federal financing program will provide loans to Vermont individuals, small businesses and town governments to support a broad range of energy improvement projects. Senator Patrick Leahy, Governor Peter Shumlin and representatives of Senator Sanders and Congressman Welch were joined by United States Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in Burlington Friday to announce the $46 million federal loan program to bolster investments in energy efficiency and renewable power projects across the Vermont, which will be administered by the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC) with funds provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Vermont program the largest of its kind in the country.In a joint statement, Senator Leahy, Senator Sanders, Congressman Welch and Governor Shumlin said:  “Vermonters have long led on energy efficiency because they know it is good for the planet and for their pocketbooks.  Vermonters will now have a more affordable way to improve the efficiency of their homes allowing them to spend less on energy costs.  The program will create jobs in Vermont at renewable energy companies and installers.”  Leahy is a leading member and former chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, which oversees USDA.Secretary Vilsack, Governor Shumlin (speaking), Senator Leahy, and Scott Johnstone. Courtesy pic.VEIC Executive Director Scott Johnstone said: “Our history of delivering results and driving innovations through Efficiency Vermont gives VEIC the experience, technical expertise and partnerships to leverage this loan capital, helping Vermonters access low-cost capital to complete clean energy projects,” said Scott Johnstone, Executive Director of VEIC.  “We are especially excited by the potential of this program to help more low- and middle-income customers access affordable financing.”Secretary Vilsack said: “This USDA assistance will reduce barriers to energy investments by lowering the upfront costs, spreading these costs over 20 years, and by making financing more available. It also will help residential, commercial, agricultural and industrial consumers in rural Vermont reduce energy use and meet state and national energy goals.”Over the next four years, the program will be the first large-scale statewide implementation of the RUS Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program (EECLP) in the country.  VEIC, as the operator of Efficiency Vermont, will work with utility companies, financial institutions, contractors, public organizations and government agencies, to offer long-term, low-interest loans for consumers to make efficiency upgrades.  These can include weatherization improvements, high efficiency lighting, conversion to renewable energy sources like consumer-scale solar power, and HVAC improvements.  EECLP was created in 2014 by USDA under the direction of Congress, by making $250 million in loans available in its first year with the goal of creating a more sustainable domestic energy sector and reducing barriers to investment in energy efficiency. The program is expected to be launched later this year.The benefits of accomplishing these improvements include helping to reduce consumption of electricity, alleviating poverty by lowering Vermonters’ electric bills, creating good local jobs to make these improvements, improving residents’ health and wellness, improving property values, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and increasing competitiveness of farms and businesses.  These improvements are especially important for Vermont’s low and middle income households which spend higher percentages of their income on energy costs, which becomes more challenging when energy bills rise. BURLINGTON, Vt. (FRIDAY, Jan. 8, 2016) – USDAlast_img read more

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NRC finishes review of VY cleanup plan, estimates decommissioning, spent-fuel management at $1.24 billion

first_imgNorthstar Vermont Yankee,by Mike Faher/The Commons(link is external) Federal regulators have given their blessing to Vermont Yankee’s decommissioning plans. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on February 4 announced that the Vernon plant’s Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report is consistent with federal guidelines. The report includes plant owner Entergy’s decommissioning cost estimate and the company’s schedule for Vermont Yankee’s radiological cleanup. The total cost including license termination, spent fuel management and site restoration is estimated to be $1.24 billion.Before making any changes to its plans — including those that would “significantly” boost decommissioning costs — Entergy must notify the NRC in writing, officials wrote in a Jan. 29 letter to plant administrators.Entergy ceased power production at Vermont Yankee in December 2014 and submitted the Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report that same month. While formal NRC approval of the document is not required, the agency performed a detailed review.The NRC also took public comment and held a public meeting in February 2015 in Brattleboro. Federal officials say they received “a large number of comments” from individuals and from Vermont officials.The federal agency’s staff considered some of the issues raised by the public, documents show.Those included the adequacy and appropriate use of the plant’s decommissioning trust fund; long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel at the plant; the status of offsite emergency plans after Vermont Yankee shutdown; and Entergy’s choice of the long-term SAFSTOR decommissioning option.Other public concerns were not considered, either because they were outside the NRC’s authority or “were not relevant to the review performed by the NRC staff,” officials wrote.Those issues included questions or comments about the specific condition of various plant components including spent fuel; thermal pollution in the Connecticut River; transportation and storage of low-level radioactive material; and “the acceptability of current NRC regulations.”In the end, the NRC came to several conclusions:• Entergy “adequately described the activities associated with the major periods or milestones” in Vermont Yankee’s decommissioning.• The company’s proposed decommissioning schedule “is adequate to achieve VY license termination within 60 years of permanent cessation of operations.” That’s the maximum amount of time allowed under the federal SAFSTOR program.• Entergy’s estimated cost to terminate its Vermont Yankee NRC license—$817 million—was found to be “not unreasonable,” and the company gave “sufficient details associated with the funding mechanisms,” federal officials wrote. In addition to that license-termination cost, Entergy also expects to spend $368 million on long-term spent fuel management and $57 million on site restoration, for a total of $1.24 billion.• The company’s environmental-impact assessment for decommissioning meets federal requirements.Entergy Vermont Yankee spokesman Marty Cohn said the federal review shows that the company’s decommissioning plan “is consistent with all NRC requirements.”“We are proud of the efforts all our employees have provided and will continue to provide to ensure the decommissioning of Vermont Yankee is done as safely and cost-effectively as possible,” Cohn said.Originally published in The Commons issue #343 (Wednesday, February 10, 2016). This story appeared on page A1.(link is external)last_img read more

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Comments of Senator Patrick Leahy on state and federal EB-5 enforcement actions in Vermont

first_imgSenator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) has worked to reform the EB-5 Regional Center program for years. His EB-5 amendment to Comprehensive Immigration Reform passed the Senate in 2013, but the House of Representatives failed to allow a vote on the bill.  He also requested that the Government Accountability Office audit the program(link is external) and pressed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to do what it can to improve the program administratively.  Then last year he co-authored a broad, bipartisan reform bill supported by both chairmen and ranking members of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees.  These reforms would provide DHS a dedicated anti-fraud fund and increased authority to terminate bad actors, as well as require additional background checks, annual financial reporting, audits, mandatory site visits of projects and regional centers, and increased disclosures to investors and protections for investors in case a project or regional center is terminated.  The reforms in the Leahy-Grassley bill would also promote EB-5 investment in distressed and undercapitalized areas as Congress intended. Unfortunately, congressional leaders inexcusably blocked these reforms last December.“I’m shocked and saddened by what state and federal investigators have found,” Leahy said  in a statement issued Thursday evening. “I’m especially heartbroken for the people of the Northeast Kingdom, whose high hopes for these projects have been dealt a harsh blow.  My thoughts are with the many families impacted by this.  It is a good sign that both the federally appointed receiver and the state are doing what they can to keep these businesses open and to keep these Vermonters employed.  I am also aware that hundreds of investors who believed in these projects now do not know if they will see their money or any immigration benefits. It is a terrible situation all around.“The allegations here are extraordinarily serious, and as a Senator I don’t comment on pending enforcement matters. I have supported the EB-5 Regional Center Program because it can generate significant investment and create real jobs in rural areas.  Several Vermont businesses have benefited from this program, including Sugarbush Ski Resort and Country Home Products.  ‎But there is no question that the program is in dire need of reform, and I have worked for many years to convince Congress to enact reforms and to improve it.  Fraud and abuse cannot be tolerated, no matter where it occurs. Even where there is no indication of fraud, the incentives that Congress created to direct EB-5 investment to underserved areas are regularly abused.  Given the significant problems plaguing this program, I will continue to push for meaningful reform.  Without reform, I believe the time has come for the program to end.”RELATED STORIES:State files suit alleging investor fraud at Jay Peak, Inc EB-5 ProjectsState, SEC reveal complaints: Quiros, Stenger ‘looted’ $50 millionLeahy seeks to reform EB-5 program, eliminate gerrymanderinglast_img read more

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Saturday’s ‘Vermont Breakfast on the Farm’ gave public taste of farm life

first_imgVermont Business Magazine The Rowell Family of Green Mountain Dairy Farm in Sheldon believe in showing their community what farmers do to produce safe, wholesome and nutritious food in Vermont and beyond. On August 27, the Rowell’s opened their farm to over 1,000 visitors for Vermont’s 3rd Breakfast on the Farm. The free, public event included a pancake breakfast, self-guided tours of the dairy farm and a peek into the life and business of dairy farming in Vermont – home to over 850 dairy farms that make 63% of the milk for New England, according to USDA data.The Rowell farm dairy barn. VAAFM photos.The 2,000-cow, 1,500-acre farm is owned and operated by brothers, Brian and Bill Rowell, along with their family and 18 full-time employees. The farm has earned acclaim for their high quality milk. In 2008 they won The New England Green Pastures Dairy Farm of the Year award.  The farm produces over 27 million pounds of milk annually for the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery, which is used for yogurt, ice cream, cheese, butter and other quality dairy products.“Dairy products from Vermont farms are top quality, and it is important to our region that people support their local dairy farmer,” said Bill Rowell.  “Breakfast on the Farm was an opportunity for those who participated to see for themselves the practice of caring for the cows, and producing a quality food product on today’s dairy farm.”Educational stations throughout the farm enabled visitors to learn about daily life on a dairy farm, including sustainable technology. Green Mountain Dairy Farm is one of several Vermont dairy farms that turns manure into electricity through an anaerobic digester with the cooperation of Green Mountain Power. The local utility buys the renewable energy for the grid through a program called Cow Power™, and the farm generates enough electricity annually to power 400 homes. Attendees also saw farm equipment, learned about how farmers protect water quality, toured the free stall barns where the cows have constant access to food, water, and comfortable beds, and learned about how calves are raised. Kids took part in an educational scavenger hunt that included learning how to milk a cow. Vermont Breakfast on the Farm is coordinated by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture and aims to provide the public with a first-hand look at how food is made for Vermont communities and the world. Approximately 100 volunteers from the community joined the Rowell family and helped answer visitors’ questions about farming practices.Chuck Ross, Vermont’s Secretary of Agriculture said, “Breakfast on the Farm is one way we can help ensure that future generations of Vermonters maintain a connection to the land and an appreciation for the importance of agriculture in our state.”Vermont Breakfast on the Farm is made possible by the agricultural business community including Bourdeau Brothers, Hall Communications, New England Dairy Promotion Board, Poulin Grain and Vermont Feed Dealers & Manufacturers Association.Source: The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets (VAAFM). 8.28.2016. 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.  www.Agriculture.Vermont.Gov(link is external) and www.VermontDairy.com (link is external)For more information, visit www.VermontBreakfastonTheFarm.com(link is external), email [email protected](link sends e-mail), or call Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets at (802) 828-2430.last_img read more

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Donovan joins action against rollback of student loan protections

first_imgVermont Business Magazine Attorney General Donovan today joined a multistate letter calling out the US Department of Education for abdicating its responsibility to millions of student loan borrowers. The Department is revoking critical reforms designed to help students avoid default and curtail loan servicer misconduct. The multistate letter – co-sponsored by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, and joined by 19 attorneys general and the Office of Consumer Protection of Hawaii – was sent to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in opposition to the Department’s recent rollback of guidance(link is external) intended to protect student loan borrowers and reform the student loan servicing industry. The guidance(link is external), issued by the Department of Education last year, centered on helping borrowers get accurate information about their loans and repayment options, ensuring the consistency of service provided by student loan servicers, increasing servicer accountability, and enhancing transparency. These reforms aimed to improve borrowers’ access to affordable loan repayment plans designed to help borrowers in distress avoid default. But the Department’s action earlier this month has instead left student loan borrowers vulnerable to poor practices and abuses that the servicing reforms were intended to prevent.According to the letter, borrowers struggle under the weight of their student loan debt and federal student loan default rates are on the rise. In 2015, the CFPB estimated that more than 25 percent of student loan borrowers were delinquent or in default on a student loan. “Many such borrowers would benefit greatly from entering income-driven repayment plans but are prevented from doing so by student loan servicer misconduct and misinformation,” the letter states.Joining today’s letter are the attorneys general of Vermont, Massachusetts, Illinois, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia, as well as the Executive Director of the Office of Consumer Protection of Hawaii.Source: Vermont AG. April 24, 2017last_img read more

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VEDA approved $198.9 in financings in FY17, Ag highest ever

first_imgVermont Business Magazine VEDA approved 344 financings in FY2017 totaling nearly $199 million. For the second year running, the Authority also surpassed any prior year’s agricultural loan approvals. These and other measures of the Authority’s contributions to Vermont’s economy will be presented today at VEDA’s 43rd Annual Meeting in South Burlington.“VEDA’s two biggest areas of growth in FY2017 were tax-exempt conduit bonds and agricultural loans,” said VEDA Chief Executive Officer Jo Bradley. “Tax-exempt bonds are an important financing tool for larger businesses, and VEDA is the conduit that allows these companies to access the tax-exempt market.” In FY2017, VEDA issued $128.4 million in tax-exempt bonds.VEDA made 135 loans $26.5 million through the Authority’s agricultural lending program, the Vermont Agricultural Credit Corporation (VACC) in FY 2017 — outpacing all prior years. Bradley noted that agricultural loans now comprise 40% of VEDA’s portfolio. “The agricultural economy has become far more diversified, including not only dairy farms, but vegetable growers, cheese manufacturers, forest product businesses, and more. VEDA is so pleased to play a vital role in supporting growth in this important sector of Vermont’s economy.”Of the financings closed in FY2017, 34% were agricultural loans, 29% were commercial projects, 21% were tax-exempt bond projects, and 16% were energy loans.As of June 30, 2017, VEDA had assets of $288.4 million, with a loan portfolio totaling $256.4 million. Since its inception in 1974, VEDA has approved financings totaling over $2.49 billion.VEDA’s FY 2017 Annual Report is available for viewing online at www.veda.org. (link is external)The Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) is Vermont’s nonprofit economic development finance lender. Created by the Vermont General Assembly in 1974, VEDA’s mission is “to contribute to the creation and retention of quality jobs in Vermont by providing loans and other financial support to eligible and qualified Vermont industrial, commercial and agricultural enterprises.”VEDA offers a wide range of low-cost lending options for Vermont businesses and farms of all sizes, and the Authority’s lending solutions are customized to each borrower’s individual needs. Whether in the form of direct loans, tax-exempt bond issuance or loan guarantee support, VEDA’s innovative financing programs help ensure that Vermont businesses and farms have the capital they need to grow and succeed.VEDA most often lends in conjunction with banks and other financing partners, helping to stimulate economic development activity in Vermont. Since inception, VEDA has provided over $2.49 billion in financing assistance to thousands of eligible Vermont entrepreneurs, manufacturers, small businesses, family farms, and agricultural enterprises.VEDA has five offices throughout Vermont – in Montpelier, Burlington, Middlebury, St. Johnsbury and Brattleboro. For more information about VEDA, visit www.veda.org(link is external) or call 802-828-JOBS.Source: South Burlington, VT – VEDA 10.27.2017last_img read more

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