Current News

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by Timothy McQuiston, Vermont Business Magazine New data has revealed which states are expected to have the highest electricity bills this year and which will have the lowest. Hawaii is anticipated to pay out the most, and Utah to pay out the least.  Vermont ranked lower than all New England states (33rd, $1,513.34), and was lower than the US average ($1,730.55).  By comparing consumer costs between November 2022 and 2023, an annual increase was calculated for each state, determining a total bill for each household.  electric rates do not translate into electric bills necessarily. For instance, Alabama's electric rate is 14.89 cents/kwh, far lower than Vermont's 21.57 cents/kwh, but their estimated annual bill is 10th highest at $2,064.63, nearly $500 more than Vermont's. 

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Vermont Business Magazine Governor Phil Scott's office today responded to criticism that he is not doing enough to address public safety by releasing a statement saying that in Governor Scott’s Budget Address, delivered to the Legislature in January, he said, “I don’t think there will be a lot of disagreement about what’s in this budget. The disagreement will lie in what’s not in it. But pretending we can fund everything isn’t realistic.” So, when “critics say” the governor has not prioritized public safety, they are ignoring the budget reality and some key facts. First, Governor Scott’s budget did prioritize public safety. In a year where available revenue only allowed for 3.57% growth in the General Fund budget over the previous fiscal year, the governor proposed funding agencies, departments and services with public safety responsibilities at an average of 5.6% more than the previous year. 

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Vermont Business Magazine ISO New England on February 21, 2024, filed the finalized results of the 18th Forward Capacity Auction (FCA 18) with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The finalized results confirm that the annual auction, held February 5, secured commitments for 31,556 megawatts (MW) of capacity to be available in 2027/2028. The results include a detailed breakdown of about 950 individual resource obligations, ranging in size from 7 kilowatts to 1.2 gigawatts and encompassing a wide variety of fuels and technologies.

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Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Dairy Industry Association (VDIA), in partnership with the A. Pizzagalli Family Farm Fund, is pleased to announce the 2023 Vermont Milk Quality Awards. The awards recognize the dairy farmers who produced Vermont's best quality milk in 2023. These farmers were recognized yesterday at the annual Vermont Dairy Producers Conference in Burlington.  The conference, presented by the Vermont Dairy Producers Association, offers programming and activities for producers and dairy industry professionals across the Northeast. Informative presentations on a variety of topics were offered including animal care, technology and data, sustainability, human resources, and more.

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Vermont Business Magazine Vermont Conservation Voters (VCV) presented this year’s VCV Environmental Rising Star Awards to Senator Anne Watson (D/P-Washington) and Representative Mike Rice (D-Dorset). The VCV Environmental Rising Star Award is presented bi-annually to first-term legislators who have stepped up to be effective champions of VCV priority issues in their first legislative session, and who have a bright future of environmental leadership. 

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Vermont Business Magazine Governor Phil Scott has directed the State Flood Recovery Office to simplify the application process and provide technical assistance to eligible applicants to expedite the distribution of mitigation funds to communities impacted by the July 2023 storms, flooding, and landslides. Over $100 million is available to municipalities to help mitigate the impacts of future disasters. The flooding that devastated Vermont last summer left behind more than $1 billion in response, recovery, and social support costs. The funding available through the federal Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, managed by Vermont Emergency Management, will finance projects like roadway elevation, redesigned floodplains, home buyouts, upsized culverts, improved roadways and bridges, and others that will lessen the impacts of flooding in the future, reducing recovery costs.

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Vermont Business Magazine The University of Vermont Health Network has reached a multi-year agreement with UnitedHealthcare to maintain coverage for patients with UnitedHealthcare commercial insurance plans. The agreement runs through March 31, 2026, and secures access to UVM Health Network facilities and physicians for patients who are covered through one of the nation’s largest insurance carriers. This new agreement comes at the end of a two-month extension to the previous contract, which the UVM Health Network sought in order to allow patients and employers more time to make alternative plans. 

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by Mike Donoghue, Vermont News First, Vermont Business Magazine A state legislator from Bennington was arrested outside the Vermont State House on Wednesday morning on a charge of driving while under the influence, Montpelier Police said. Police said Representative James Carroll (D-Bennington) was stopped as he pulled his car into a parking lot at the so-called Pink Lady, a multi-story building which serves as the office for the Joint Fiscal Affairs Office at 1 Baldwin Street. Carroll will not be contesting the criminal charge, according to Representative Kathleen James, D-Manchester, the assistant majority leader. 

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Vermont Business Magazine CVFiber is excited to bring fiber Internet service to parts of Middlesex and additional parts of Worcester. Site surveys have already begun in the area to help decrease installation wait times. Aerial installations will be scheduled throughout the winter with underground conduit installations beginning in the spring. Parts of Calais continue to be scheduled for installations as well. Expansion efforts in Woodbury are underway with construction likely continuing until the end of the year.   

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Vermont State Police The Chief Medical Examiner’s Office has informed the Vermont State Police of the final determination on cause and manner of death for 23-year-old Tanairy “Tanya” Velazquez Estrada, whose body was found Oct. 25, 2023, in the town of Washington. The medical examiner identified the cause of death as asphyxia due to strangling, and the manner of death as a homicide. VSP’s investigation into this incident remains active and ongoing.

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Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Criminal Justice Council announced today that they held a warned, public meeting regarding the potential actions of the Council on two former Vermont certified law enforcement officers. The first stipulated agreement involved Stephen Bunnell, a former officer of the Caledonia County Sherriff’s Department. The agreement identified that Bunnell pleaded guilty to one count of Disturbing the Peace by Electronic Means, and one count of Prohibited Conduct. The guilty pleas were made on March 7, 2022 in Vermont Superior Court, Caledonia Unit, Criminal Division. 

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Vermont Business Magazine Today, the Vermont Senate Committee on Natural Resources & Energy voted 5-0 to advance S.213, the Flood Safety Act. According to the Vermont Natural Resources Council, this bill takes important steps to reduce the risk of future flooding and strengthen our communities’ resilience. After the devastating floods of 2023, and climate projections indicating worsening and more frequent future flooding, Vermont must adopt policies to reduce flood-related damages. These policies can simultaneously provide clean drinking water, support biodiversity, and protect recreational opportunities. These policies also bolster our economy and promote public health. Building on the strong work of the Senate Natural Resources & Energy Committee, we need continued leadership from legislators as S.213 works its way through the process to help increase public safety, reduce impacts and costs from flood damage, and protect these critically important natural resources from the increasing impacts of climate change.