by Alan Panebaker vtdigger.org Legislation that would require utilities to purchase green energy will go back to the drawing board, according the chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources and Energy.The bill, H.468, would have required utilities to purchase 80 percent of their power from qualifying renewable sources in 2025.The bill set out ambitious goals for utilities, but after weeks of testimony, the second draft eased these qualifications by requiring 75 percent renewables by 2032. Thirty-five percent of those would have to come from ‘new’ generation that came online after Dec. 31, 2004.That draft, Rep. Tony Klein, D-E. Montpelier, said, is history.Photo: Rep. Tony Klein. VTD/Josh Larkin‘Where it would end up is by 2032 we would have a renewable portfolio standard, which would make all the techno geeks and academics happy,’ he said. ‘Would it do anything? Not in my estimation. In my estimation we need to move faster. We need to move further.’Klein’s bill would require utilities in Vermont to purchase renewable energy and retire the renewable energy credits. Under current law, utilities have to meet a percentage of their electric load from renewable energy projects. Power companies in Vermont can then sell the renewable energy credits. Other states require utilities to retire the credits.Vermont is the only state in New England that does not distinguish between small and large hydroelectric projects and deems both types renewable.’The result is lower rates, but because utilities in Vermont are double dipping, the power is considered ‘brown’ power ‘ even if it comes from something like a wind turbine. This is a result of selling the credits or ‘environmental attributes.’Utilities and some business groups have lobbied for the ability to keep these credits. Requiring utilities to retire them in the state will raise costs for ratepayers, they claim.The renewable energy bill has seen somewhat of a softening in recent weeks. Klein said he plans to go back to the original version of the legislation.Klein said he plans to propose that ‘new’ renewables include projects that go online in 2012, not 2005, and that by 2025 utilities carry 30 percent of these ‘new renewables’ in their portfolio.Klein said he plans to propose another ‘standard offer’ for small renewable energy projects that will guarantee long-term contracts between producers and utilities.Environmental groups have questioned what the Legislature plans to do about energy from large-scale hydroelectric projects like those in Quebec. Vermont is the only state in New England that does not distinguish between small and large hydroelectric projects and deems both types ‘renewable.’Klein proposes limiting the ‘new renewable’ category for these dams to those online after 2012 and limiting the amount of what a utility can claim in its portfolio as an even smaller percentage of that ‘green’ power.‘Hydro-Quebec is never going to be able to build a new dam and say all the power they are selling to Vermont came from that dam,’ Klein said.The concern among environmentalists has been that energy from Hydro-Quebec would essentially flood the New England market and produce an abundance of cheap renewable energy credits, undermining the entire accounting system for renewable energy credits.As for these renewable energy credits, which utilities currently sell in large part to Massachusetts or Connecticut, they must be paired with the electricity at least for new projects, Klein said.Klein said people should expect new proposals soon.‘We were not happy with the first two drafts,’ he said. ‘They were way too complex, way too long and they did not deliver enough.’While Klein and his committee got kudos from some local businesses at a press conference Thursday by Renewable Energy Vermont, at least one business group said the legislation goes too far.Bill Driscoll, vice president of the Associated Industries of Vermont, said the proposed legislation raises cost and reliability concerns.Excluding Hawaii and Alaska, Driscoll said, commercial industrial electric rates are already more expensive than most other states.‘Why are we trying to make things more expensive and more risky for businesses,’ he said.With Vermont’s small size and limited industry, Driscoll said, it absorbs more carbon than it emits. That’s according to a study by the Douglas administration three years ago.With programs like the standard offer, Vermont already has a great deal of renewable generation, Driscoll said, and more small renewable projects can lead to reliability issues in addition to the increased costs. vtdigger.org 2.9.2012
About Aortic StenosisAortic stenosis, which is most prevalent in the elderly population, inhibits blood flow between the heart and the body and causes symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue and heart palpitations. While the heart initially compensates for stenosis by thickening its walls to help push blood through the valve, eventually this extra work weakens the heart and leads to an insufficient supply of oxygen-rich blood and sometimes causes a back-up of blood into the lungs. Untreated, aortic valve stenosis can lead to serious heart problems including heart failure and even death. Other than surgery, patients with this condition have had few, if any, successful treatment options. In the U.S., the CoreValve System will not be commercially available until the successful completion of this clinical trial and approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).The CoreValve System received CE (ConformitÃ© EuropÃ©enne) Mark in Europe in 2007. Many patients with severe aortic stenosis are unable to receive surgical valve therapy. For patients at high-risk for open-heart surgery, this trial will study the efficacy of a less-invasive, percutaneous treatment option. Every high risk patient who is considered for the clinical trial will be evaluated by a comprehensive Heart Team including interventional cardiologists and cardiac surgeons. ‘There is significant need for a new treatment option for patients with aortic stenosis, and it is enormously rewarding that Fletcher Allen can be part of evaluating this revolutionary new treatment option in our community,’ said Harry Dauerman, M.D., director, Cardiovascular Catheterization Laboratories at Fletcher Allen and professor, University of Vermont College of Medicine . ‘As the population ages,’ he continued, ‘the need for this procedure will continue to grow, as aortic stenosis is a condition that develops with age, and many people who are otherwise healthy could benefit significantly.’ ‘Because open-heart surgery is the most commonly available treatment option for these patients, and because the risks of surgery can be significant for many patients, the medical community is enthusiastic about the less-invasive option for these patients,’ said Dr. Dauerman. Fletcher Allen Health Care today announced that on February 22 it successfully performed its first two patient implants in the Medtronic CoreValve US Pivotal Trial. Fletcher Allen Health Care is one of 45 sites in the United States participating in an important clinical study evaluating the safety and effectiveness of a new technology that enables aortic valve replacement without traditional open-heart surgery. This clinical trial, sponsored by Medtronic, aims to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of the Medtronic CoreValve System, an investigational technology that enables aortic valve replacement without the need for traditional open-heart surgery (Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation’TAVI). This system allows access to the diseased aortic valve via a femoral artery in the leg and does not require heart-lung bypass. Fletcher Allen. 4.2.2012.
by Alicia Freese vtdigger.org Two rival resolutions on bringing F-35 fighter jets to South Burlington landed in the Vermont House within a day of one another.Rep. George Cross, D-Winooski, unveiled an opposing resolution at a press conference at the Statehouse Thursday, asking that Vermont be removed from the first round of basing decisions on the F-35. Cross said he will also introduce a bill next week that would establish a program to provide compensation to people affected by the F-35s, if they end up in South Burlington.Rep. Jim McCullough, D- Williston, introduced a resolution on the House floor Wednesday which calls on the Legislature to express support for bringing the F-35 to the Vermont Air National Guard air base.The U.S. Air Force is expected to choose a base location ‘ South Burlington is among the options it’ s mulling over ‘ sometime this spring. There is strong local opposition in the Burlington area, primarily on the issue of increased noise from the next-generation aircraft, currently estimated to cost $130 million each. But Gov. Peter Shumlin, Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders, and Rep. Peter Welch all support bringing the F-35 to South Burlington to replace the F-16s currently flown by the Vermont Air National Guard.McCullough’ s resolution has a predecessor ‘ in 2010 the Legislature passed a resolution to support bringing the F-35 planes to Vermont. But, Cross said, that resolution is outdated, since lawmakers who supported the resolution hadn’ t yet seen the U.S. Air Force’ s Environmental Impact Statement, which was released in 2012.Cross’ s resolution struck a conciliatory tone similar to that of the wind moratorium bill introduced in early January ‘ it asks for a time-out until further impact assessments can be carried out.‘ We are not asking that it never come to Burlington. We are asking that we delay the decision at this point in time until there is more information available so that a wise decision can be made at the proper time,’ Cross said. Specifically, the resolution asks the Legislature to recommend South Burlington be removed from the first round of basing decisions.Roseanne Greco, a South Burlington City Council member, retired Air Force colonel and a vocal opponent of basing the F-35s in South Burlington, also spoke along with Cross. Burlington will have plenty more chances down the road to host the fighter jets, Greco argued. ‘ This is not Burlington’ s only opportunity to get the F-35 ‘¦ just the opposite. They [the U.S. Air Force] are going to buy thousands of F-35s.’Cross doesn’ t have supporters to co-introduce his bill in the House yet. A handful of representatives had originally planned to sign on, but later changed their minds, Cross said.A small group of supporters stood behind Cross, but the crowd was light on legislators. Sen. David Zuckerman, P-Hinesburg, was there and said he plans to introduce the same resolution in the Senate. Rep. Joanna Cole, D-Burlington, also attended, saying she is concerned the F-35 basing could cause cognitive development problems for children in the surrounding region.Asked about chances that the resolution will pass, Cross replied, ‘ I think that it’ s a long haul.’He expects his resolution will end up in the hands of the General Housing and Military Affairs Committee; McCullough’ s resolution was directed there yesterday. ‘ The initial indication from that committee is it’ s not a resolution they have a particular interest in, however that could change. Everything in the Legislature is fluid,’ Cross said.by Alicia Freese | February 8, 2013 vtdigger.org
by Anne Galloway vtdigger.org The House Appropriations Committee is getting an early start on the Budget Adjustment Act ‘ the mid-year realignment of state expenditures and revenues.The committee began with an overview from the Shumlin administration on Monday and this month will go through every line item with department commissioners and agency secretaries.As per usual, spending is up and down in an equal number of categories, but the ups are larger than the downs. The end result? The state needs $12.53 million to close the fiscal year 2014 General Fund budget.The increase amounts to 1 percent of the $1.3 billion General Fund for fiscal year 2014. The state’s total budget for the current year ‘ including federal funds, transportation expenditures, special funds and capital improvements ‘ is $5.3 billion.To an extent, the budget adjustment changes are a preview of things to come. As lawmakers discussed the budget with Jeb Spaulding, the secretary of the Agency of Administration, and Jim Reardon, the commissioner of the Department of Finance and Management, the conversation naturally turned to 2015, speculation about federal cuts to programs and the state’s $75 million budget gap.Some of the unknowns include just how much the state will need to come up with to carryover VHAP and Catamount Health patients from Jan. 1 to March 31. The Shumlin administration recently extended coverage for those patients by three months because of problems with Vermont Health Connect.The Shumlin administration is not only working with the Legislature to get an early jump on the Budget Adjustment Act, but is also accelerating the schedule for taking up the Big Bill. Gov. Peter Shumlin plans to give his budget address on Jan. 15 ‘ a full week ahead of the traditional timeframe.But back to the budget adjustment.The total amount overspent in 2014 so far is actually $18 million ‘ if you include a $5.5 million transfer of funds for a state building in St. Albans. The complex deal with Mylan Technologies involving a $5.5 million loan from the Department of Corrections that is going to be paid back with the sale of the facility is part of the General Fund budget instead of the Capital Budget.The remaining $12.53 million will come from a cash reserve the Legislature set aside last year for emergencies.That figure would be closer to $20 million if state employees hadn’t saved the state about $7 million in health care premium costs. Meanwhile, state workers will get a premium rate holiday for four pay periods. The state pays 80 percent of the cost of health care for state workers. The $7 million in health premium savings to the state budget is part of an overall reduction in premiums of more than $17 million across state government for positions that are paid through federal funds and special funds, according to a spreadsheet from the Department of Finance and Management.The ‘ups’ ‘ the line items that are higher than expected ‘ are mostly in the Agency of Human Services.The state has $4.4 million remaining in a reserve to cover costs associated with federal cuts. The budget stabilization fund balance of $66.16 million will not be touched by the increases in 2014 spending.Here is a rundown of the big ticket items:Medicaid spending is up by $7 million due to more utilization ($1.6 million), higher cost treatments ($1.3 million for liver transplants and newborn care), a $1.8 million drop in the federal/state match formula and a $2 million uptick in Catamount Health enrollment.The Vermont Veterans Home in Bennington will cost the state another $2.85 million this year because of an ongoing decline in admissions. About $1 million of that total includes a repayment to the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living for ‘overpayments related to Medicaid.’The state is looking to give the Brattleboro Retreat an additional $570,000 to cover increased utilization costs. In fiscal year 2014, the state has budgeted a total of $22 million for a variety of Retreat services. The increase in the General Fund appropriation is half of the amount requested by the administration. The Department of Vermont Health Access is asking for $566,000 as well, according to budget analyst Emily Byrne.A delay in opening the Vermont Psychiatric Care Center in Berlin, the replacement for the Vermont State Hospital, will cost the state an estimated $500,000.An increase in temporary support services for Medicaid patients who need personal care support is a $1.54 million ticket item. Last summer, the Shumlin administration changed eligibility rules for personal care. These funds are for ‘transitioning people off of personal care as their eligibility is re-determined,’ according to Byrne.The state is paying rent again for state workers who have been permanently relocated after Tropical Storm Irene. Over the last two years, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state’s insurer, Lexington, paid for temporary office space leases. The state has set aside $1.7 million for National Life, which now houses the Agency of Natural Resources on an ongoing basis. Rent for departments in the Agency of Human Services will total about $910,000 through the end of the year.Emergency housing for Vermonters who would otherwise be homeless has increased by $3.22 million in fiscal year 2014.An increase in the number of prisoners who are shipped to out of state prisons will cost the state an additional $1.55 million this year. There has been an influx in the number of detainees awaiting trial. These prisoners have taken up space that would otherwise be occupied by inmates who have already been sentenced.‘
Vermont Business Magazine Tiny bubbles and children’s voices filled the air at the Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center in Burlington today as the statewide campaign, Let’s Grow Kids, officially launched. Business leaders, early childhood professionals, public officials and many others attended the event, which also featured several hands-on activities for children – who represent the very heart of the campaign.”Giving our children a solid start in life is a value we all share,” said Robyn Freedner-Maguire, campaign director for Let’s Grow Kids. “These children will be our community leaders, our teachers, our doctors…we want all Vermonters to understand how very important the earliest years of our children’s lives are not only to their future, but to our state’s future as well.”Speakers at the event included Dr. Joseph Hagan, MD, FAAP, a long-time Burlington pediatrician and chair of the Vermont Citizen’s Advisory Board (VCAB) for the Vermont Agency of Human Services Department for Children and Families. Hagan spoke about the early years of development and the importance of reading aloud to children.”The years from birth to five are a time of rapid growth and development, cognitively as well as socially and emotionally in our children,” said Dr. Joseph Hagan, MD, FAAP. “Brains are built by the early experiences and relationships a child has in these early years…the brain connections made during this time lay the foundation for a lifetime.”Research conducted by Hart Research Associates in December showed that Vermonters are not aware of the significant development that occurs during the first three years of life. About 80% of a child’s crucial brain development happens before age three, and 90% by age five.”It’s a whole lot easier to prevent problems than it is to fix them later,” added Dr Hagan.Tim Volk, co-chair, Building Bright Futures State Council, reported on data from the organization’s April 2014 report, “How Are Vermont’s Young Children?””Only 32% of parents of infants, toddlers, and young children age 0-5 reported their children received developmental screenings in 2011-12,” said Volk. “Thirty-two percent of third graders are reading below grade level.”According to Volk, recent Kindergarten Readiness Surveys from the Agency of Education show 40-50% of Vermont’s children are assessed as unprepared for school in all 5 domains. LouAnn Beninati, program specialist for Vermont Birth To Three, talked about the importance of high quality early care. Beninati reported that, in Vermont, 70% of parents with children under age 6 are in the workforce, which translates to children spending as much as 40 hours a week or more in care outside the home.”Where, how and with whom they spend that time is extremely important,” said Beninati. “We need to ensure that all children are spending time in quality, nurturing environments – wherever they are.”Mary Powell, CEO of Green Mountain Power Corporation, echoed Beninati’s comments about the need to invest in the early years.”Parents rely on childcare so they can come to work each day and be productive and provide for their families,” said Powell. “The quality of our future workforce depends upon giving our children a firm foundation for the rest of their lives…babies matter to business.”Freedner-Maguire wrapped up the event with a call to action to attendees. “We need everyone working on this issue – parents and non-parents, educators, business leaders, childcare providers, public officials – it takes all of us to grow our kids. Please visit our website, join our campaign and find out how you can help us spread the word.”To learn how to get involved with Let’s Grow Kids, visit letsgrowkids.org.About Let’s Grow KidsLet’s Grow Kids, a statewide public education campaign, aims to raise understanding of the importance of the earliest years in the lives of Vermont’s children. Funded by a collaboration of private foundations, Let’s Grow Kids is working with Vermont communities, organizations, businesses, and individuals to create positive lasting change that will allow all of our children to succeed in life. For more information, visit letsgrowkids.org.Follow us on Twitter: @LetsGrowKidsLike us on FaceBook: facebook.com/LetsGrowKids Photos by Vermont Business Magazine. From top, children play before the event, as childcare was provided. Dr Hagan, Mary Powell, Jessica Perrotte, and Tim Volk.
Vermont Business Magazine According to a new federal study on the effects of climate change, Vermont will be wetter and warmer with the change having a significant impact on fauna and flora. Governor Peter Shumlin said in response that key industries, like maple sugaring and the ski industry, have already seen the effects and will continue to do so at an accelerated level.In a statement following the release of the report, the governor said: “This assessment tells us, in unprecedented detail, what we already know in Vermont: that climate change is affecting not just our state, but every part of our country, and every sector of our economy. The assessment makes it clear that climate change is not a distant threat, it is affecting us right now.“As a member of the White House Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, I am working with President Obama, other governors, mayors and tribal leaders from across the country to determine how the Federal Government can work more effectively with its state and local partners to ensure that are prepared for the floods, droughts, fires and other impacts described in the National Climate Assessment. After Irene I vowed that we would build back better than before, and as a state we came together and are doing just that.“In light of this climate assessment we need to rededicate ourselves to ensuring that we are prepared for what the future holds, and we must work even harder to meet our greenhouse gas reduction goals by implementing our state energy plan.”The Obama Administration on May 6 released the third US National Climate Assessment—the most comprehensive scientific assessment ever generated of climate change and its impacts across every region of America and major sectors of the US economy.According to the White House, the findings in this National Climate Assessment underscore the need for urgent action to combat the threats from climate change, protect American citizens and communities today, and build a sustainable future for our kids and grandkids.The National Climate Assessment is a key deliverable of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to cut carbon pollution, prepare America’s communities for climate-change impacts, and lead international efforts to address this global challenge. Importantly, the plan acknowledges that even as we act to reduce the greenhouse-gas pollution that is driving climate change, we must also empower the Nation’s states, communities, businesses, and decision makers with the information they need prepare for climate impacts already underway.The Obama Administration has already taken a number of steps to deliver on that commitment to states, regions, and communities across America. In the past year alone, these efforts have included: establishing a Task Force of State, Local, and Tribal Leaders on Climate Preparedness and Resilience to advise the Administration on how the Federal Government can respond to the needs of communities nationwide that are dealing with the impacts of climate change; launching a Climate Data Initiative to bring together extensive open government data with strong commitments from the private and philanthropic sectors to develop planning and resilience tools for communities; and establishing seven new “climate hubs” across the country to help farmers and ranchers adapt their operations to a changing climate.VERMONT is part of the US National Climate Assessment US Northeast Region. The regional phenomena identified by the Assessment may not occur in every state that is part of a particular region.According to the third US National Climate Assessment Highlights report:“Sixty-four million people are concentrated in the Northeast. The high-density urban coastal corridor from Washington, DC, north to Boston is one of the most developed environments in the world. It contains a massive, complex, and long-standing network of supporting infrastructure. The Northeast also has a vital rural component, including large expanses of sparsely populated but ecologically and agriculturally important areas.Burlington homes along Lake Champlain were among many that were swamped during the first “Flood of the Century” in May 2011. The second, Tropical Storm Irene, hit August 28, 2011. The picture below shows the remnant of a stretch of Route 107 along the White River near Bethel. The very top photo shows the devastated covered bridge in Quechee following Irene. File photos via VTrans and Vermont Business Magazine.Although urban and rural regions in the Northeast are profoundly different, they both include populations that are highly vulnerable to climate hazards and other stresses. The region depends on aging infrastructure that has already been stressed by climate hazards including heat waves and heavy downpours. The Northeast has experienced a greater recent increase in extreme precipitation than any other region in the U.S.; between 1958 and 2010, the Northeast saw more than a 70% percent increase in the amount of precipitation falling in very heavy events (defined as the heaviest 1% of all daily events). This increase, combined with coastal and riverine flooding due to sea level rise and storm surge, creates increased risks. For all of these reasons, public health, agriculture, transportation, communications, and energy systems in the Northeast all face climate-related challenges.” (NCA Highlights, p. 70) Regional Findings of the Third US National Climate Assessment:NORTHEAST“Heat waves, coastal flooding, and river flooding will pose a growing challenge to the region’s environmental, social, and economic systems. This will increase the vulnerability of the region’s residents, especially its most disadvantaged populations.Infrastructure will be increasingly compromised by climate-related hazards, including sea level rise, coastal flooding, and intense precipitation events.Agriculture, fisheries, and ecosystems will be increasingly compromised over the next century by climate change impacts. Farmers can explore new crop options, but these adaptations are not cost- or risk-free. Moreover, inequities exist in adaptive capacity, which could be overwhelmed by changing climate.While a majority of states and a rapidly growing number of municipalities have begun to incorporate the risk of climate change into their planning activities, implementation of adaptation measures is still at early stages.” (NCA, Ch. 16: Northeast)Selected Findings and Information from the Third US National Climate Assessment Relevant to VERMONT Water:“Throughout the Northeast, populations are also concentrated along rivers and their flood plains. In mountainous regions, including much of West Virginia and large parts of Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire, more intense precipitation events will mean greater flood risk, particularly in valleys, where people, infrastructure, and agriculture tend to be concentrated.” (Ch. 16:Northeast)Health:“Since the hottest days in the Northeast are often associated with high concentrations of ground-level ozone and other pollutants, the combination of heat stress and poor air quality can pose a major health risk to vulnerable groups: young children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing health conditions including asthma.“ (NCA, Ch. 16)Lakes:“A long-term record of the ice-in date (the first date in winter when ice coverage closes the lake to navigation) on Lake Champlain in Vermont shows that the lake now freezes approximately two weeks later than in the early 1800s and over a week later than 100 years ago.“ (NCA, Appendix 3)Transportation:“Many inland states – for example, Vermont, Tennessee, Iowa, and Missouri – have experienced severe precipitation events, hail, and flooding during the past three years, damaging roads, bridges, and rail systems and the vehicles that use them.” (NCA, Ch. 5: Transportation)Ecosystems:“Effects of rising temperatures on the Northeast’s ecosystems have already been clearly observed. Further, changes in species distribution by elevation are occurring; a Vermont study found an upslope shift of 299 to 390 feet in the boundary between northern hardwoods and boreal forest on the western slopes of the Green Mountains between 1964 and 2004. Wildflowers and woody perennials are blooming earlier and migratory birds are arriving sooner. Because species differ in their ability to adjust, asynchronies (like a mismatch between key food source availability and migration patterns) can develop, increasing species and ecosystem vulnerability.“ (NCA, Ch. 16:Northeast)Examples of Efforts Underway in VERMONT to Address Climate Change In VERMONT, many efforts are already underway to mitigate and respond to the impacts of climate change, including:Preparing Communities for the Consequences of Climate Change:Many important preparedness, resilience, and adaptation efforts are already being led by local, state, and regional entities across the country. Mechanisms being used by local governments to prepare for climate change include: land-use planning; provisions to protect infrastructure and ecosystems; regulations related to the design and construction of buildings, road, and bridges; and preparation for emergency response and recovery. These local adaptation planning and actions are unfolding in municipalities of different sizes, and regional agencies and regional aggregations of governments are also taking actions. And States have also become important actors in efforts related to climate change.Governor Shumlin serves on the President’s State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force for Climate Preparedness. Under the leadership of Governor Shumlin, Vermont has reduced greenhouse gas emissions in Vermont through a combination of investments in energy efficiency and the deployment of renewable energy. He has joined 7 other states in adopting an aggressive action plan to promote the deployment of Zero Emission Vehicles in Vermont. Governor Shumlin has made investing in climate resilience a priority of his administration, and by a 2011 executive order he established a Climate Cabinet to coordinate mitigation and adaptation efforts across state government. Vermont is also a member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a regional cap-and-trade effort to reduce carbon pollution in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.Cutting Carbon Pollution in VERMONT:In 2012, power plants and major industrial facilities in Vermont emitted almost 0.5 million metric tons of carbon pollution—that’s equal to the yearly pollution from more than 90,000 cars.Through the Climate Action Plan and state initiatives, there are many efforts already underway to mitigate and respond to the impacts of climate change in Vermont, including:Investing in Clean Energy:Since President Obama took office, the US increased solar-electricity generation by more than ten-fold and tripled electricity production from wind power. In Vermont, renewable energy generation from wind, solar, and geothermal sources increased about 60 percent. Since 2009, the Administration has supported tens of thousands of renewable energy projects throughout the country, including 332 in Vermont, generating enough energy to power nearly 14,000 homes and helping Vermont meet its own goal of generating 20 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2017.Improving Efficiency:Using less energy to power our homes, businesses and vehicles is critical to building a clean and secure energy future. President Obama has made essential investments in research and development for energy efficiency advances, and set new standards to make the things we use every day – from cars to microwaves – more efficient.President Obama established the toughest fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles in US history. These standards will double the fuel efficiency of our cars and trucks by 2025, saving the average driver more than $8,000 over the lifetime of a 2025 vehicle and cutting carbon pollution.Since October 2009, the Department of Energy and the Department of Housing and Urban Development have jointly completed energy upgrades nearly two million homes across the country, saving many families more than $400 on their heating and cooling bills in the first year alone.Nationally, the President’s Better Buildings Challenge partners and Better Buildings, Better Plants partners have committed to reduce energy intensity at least 20 percent in over 3 billion square feet of building space.For more information about the third US National Climate Assessment, visit www.globalchange.gov(link is external)
Vermont Business Magazine EQ2, a Burlington-based leader in hospital computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS), and AMT Datasouth (AMT), a leader in printing and downtime solutions for hospitals and other markets, have completed the integration of their formerly standalone management, service, sales and marketing teams. The resulting synergies allow both brands to have focused efforts in supplying hospitals with unique, customized solutions. EQ2 was acquired by AMT in September 2013 and at first maintained separate service, sales and marketing teams. After identifying numerous synergies for reaching healthcare organizations that both businesses have long track records of serving, the two groups are now a fully combined team. EQ2 will continue to have staff in Burlington.Kim Stovall, Director of Sales and Marketing for EQ2 and AMT, said, “Both companies have always provided customized solutions to our hospital clients. So, the synergies we’re experiencing are natural and a good fit for us and our clients.”EQ2’s customers include Biomedical/Clinical Engineering(link is external) and Facilities/Plant Engineering(link is external) departments for asset tracking and management. EQ2’s CMMS has several modules that integrate to meet each customer’s specific needs for managing everything from work orders, to maintenance schedules on medical devices and facilities equipment, to compliance inspection preparation. The “HEMS®” CMMS was first developed in 1983(link is external) as a collaborative effort of the University of Vermont, ASHE (American Society for Healthcare Engineering), and the Kellogg Foundation. Then in 1993, EQ2 was formed as a private company to manage the continued growth of HEMS.AMT’s roots also go back to 1983(link is external) and has provided printing solutions for hospitals, pharmacies, airlines, lotteries, auto dealerships, and backroom-warehouse-workshop applications. In healthcare AMT customizes patient wristband and label solutions for each hospital and also offers AMT Process 24/7®(link is external) software for downtime patient admittance and administration.Vishal Malhotra, EQ2’s Chief Technology Officer, has spent many years developing HEMS and said, “It’s been exciting working with the integrated team. We have already released new product offerings and enhancements, new pricing models, and a redesigned website at EQ2.com(link is external) for a better user experience.”BURLINGTON, Vt.–(BUSINESS WIRE(link is external))–EQ2 11.16.2015(link is external)
Vermont Business Magazine Applications are now being accepted for the 2016 Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence. The annual awards recognize resource conservation, environmental protection, pollution prevention, and sustainability efforts taken by Vermonters. Individuals, organizations, educational institutions, public agencies and businesses are all eligible for consideration. The application period for nominating a candidate will close on February 1, 2016. For more information about the Awards or the nomination process, or to view a list of previous winners and project examples, visit the Awards web page athttp://www.anr.state.vt.us/dec/ead/gap/Index.htm(link is external) or contact Maura Mancini by phone at 802-522-0218 or email at [email protected](link sends e-mail) .
Thomas Hirchak Company,Vermont Business Magazine The Thomas Hirchak Company, of Morrisville and Williston, wants every consumer in the area to know a simple buying and selling message: Auctions Work. That’s why the company has taken part in the #AuctionsWork campaign during National Auctioneers Week, April 11-17. The campaign relies on the power of hashtags and the efforts of NAA members like Hirchak, who have tagged social media posts with #AuctionsWork and #NAAPro. The second tag designates Hirchak’s standing as part of an NAA network of auction professionals that believes in continuing education and ethical auction practices.Tom Hirchak is one of four auctioneers at the Thomas Hirchak Company, which is a member of the National Auctioneers Association and Certified Auctioneers Institute. Courtesy photo.“Auctions work because National Auctioneer Association members work,” says Terry Owen, senior vice president of THCo. “Auctions are a fabulous method of marketing, often under-utilized in the U.S.”National Auctioneers Day is officially recognized on the third Saturday of each April. This year, it falls on April 16. NAA and its members encourage all buyers, sellers, and auction enthusiasts to get out and participate at an auction.For more information about The Thomas Hirchak Company, including upcoming auctions, visit THCAuction.com or call (800) 634-7653.The National Auctioneers Association represents thousands of auction professionals from the U.S. and around the world. The NAA exists to provide critical resources to auction professionals that will enhance their skills and successes.
Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Attorney General’s Office and the Vermont Human Rights Commission issued Guidance(link is external) on gender-based pricing, which is the practice of charging different prices for goods or services based on the consumer’s gender. Gender-based pricing occurs right here in Vermont – from services such as haircuts and dry cleaning to goods such as personal hygiene products and children’s toys.According to Attorney General Sorrell, “many Vermont businesses may not realize that they are engaging in illegal gender-based pricing, and many Vermonter consumers may not realize that they have been subjected to the unfair practice. We have produced the Guide to raise awareness and help eliminate all gender-based pricing in Vermont.”A 2015 study(link is external) produced by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs found that similar products were priced the same for women and men only 40% of the time, women’s products carried higher price tags 42% of the time, and men’s carried higher price tags 18% of the time. The 2015 study referenced an earlier study which found that women pay a “gender tax” of approximately $2,191 more than men each year as a result of gender-based pricing.Gender-based pricing violates Vermont’s Public Accommodations Act, which prohibits a place of public accommodation from treating people unequally based on, among other things, sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The Human Rights Commission is charged with enforcing the Public Accommodations Act. Executive Director Karen Richards said: “As a nation, more than 50 years after passage of the Equal Pay Act, we still have not reached pay equity for men and women. Here in Vermont, women make approximately 85 cents for every dollar earned by a man, are over-represented in lower paying jobs and under-represented in higher paying jobs. This ‘gender tax’ on goods and services exacerbates the pay inequity and further erodes the ability of women, particularly single women, to adequately support their families.”Additionally, gender-based pricing violates Vermont’s Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits unfair or deceptive acts or practices in commerce. Attorney General Sorrell, whose office is charged with enforcing the Consumer Protection Act, said: “As the State’s primary enforcer of the Consumer Protection Act, I want to make it clear that gender-based pricing is an unfair practice in commerce. The Guide provides businesses with practical information on gender-based pricing and tips for eliminating the practice from existing pricing schemes.”The Guide also offers information for consumers on what to do if they encounter gender-based pricing. Among other options, consumers are encouraged to file a Complaint(link is external) with the Human Rights Commission. The Human Rights Commission will share all complaints with the Attorney General’s Office.The Guide is available on the Attorney General’s website(link is external).