USDA encourages applications for food security projects across Vermont, New Hampshire

first_imgAs residents of Northern New England prepare for Thanksgiving, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is encouraging organizations that fight hunger to consider applying for federal assistance to implement hunger-combating, food security infrastructure.’ ‘ ‘Thanksgiving offers a unique opportunity for all of us to remember those who face hunger on a daily basis,’ said USDA Rural Development Vermont and New Hampshire State Director Ted Brady. ‘USDA is seeking solutions to combat hunger and food insecurity ‘ especially through innovative approaches that match local food systems with hunger-fighting non-profits.’’ Since 2010, USDA Rural Development has used its Communities Facilities Program to fund more than $2 million worth of food security projects aimed at bolstering the food security network in Vermont and New Hampshire. Recipients of the funding include The Vermont Foodbank, Wakefield Food Pantry, The Kitchen Cupboard, Springfield Family Center Food Shelf, The Town of Groton, and Central Vermont Community Action Council (CVCAC).’ ‘ USDA grants and loans have been used to buy equipment for food shelves and pantries such as shelving, refrigeration units, and a vehicle to transport food. As part of the CVCAC project in Barre, Vt., a kitchen and food shelf was built. At the kitchen, underemployed and unemployed participants receive job training in the food services sector of the economy.’  This valuable training enables the participants to develop job skills that enhance their career opportunities and promotes their personal food security.’ The Community Facilities Loan and Grant Program serves non-profits and public bodies located in service areas of up to 20,000 in population. The funding is for capital needs of essential community facilities. In addition to food security projects, other eligible projects include those supporting child care, health care, public safety, municipal infrastructure, libraries, education and energy efficiency.’  Detailed information is available at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/HCF_CF.html(link is external).’ ‘  For an application, visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/VTNH-ComFacLoanGrant.html(link is external).’ ‘ Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack noted that Rural Development’s initiative to strengthen and develop the food security network is another reminder of the importance of USDA programs for rural America.’  A comprehensive new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would further expand the rural economy.’  He said that’s just one reason why Congress must pass a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill as soon as possible.’ ‘ President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way ‘ strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.’ USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business, and community infrastructure programs through a national network of state and local offices. For more information on Rural Development or the Community Facilities Program visit www.rurdev.usda.gov/nh-vtHome.html(link is external) or contact USDA Rural Development at (802) 828-6000 in Vermont and (603) 223-6035 in New Hampshire.last_img read more

Gifford celebrates 108th annual meeting

first_imgGifford Healthcare,Related Company: Gifford Medical CenterIf there was any doubt that Randolph’s local hospital – Gifford – stands above when it comes to commitment to community and financial stability, it was wholly erased Saturday as the medical center held its 108th Annual Meeting of its corporators.The evening gathering at Gifford featured an overview of the hospital’s successful past year, news of spectacular community outreach efforts, a video detailing employees commitment to caring for their neighbors and a ringing endorsement from Al Gobeille, chairman of the Green Mountain Care Board and the evening’s guest speaker.For Gifford, 2013 brought a 14th consecutive year “making” budget and operating margin, new providers, expanded services including urology and wound care, expanded facilities in Sharon and Randolph, a designation as a Federally Qualified Health Center and all permits needed to move forward on the construction of a senior living community in Randolph Center and private inpatient rooms at Gifford.The Randolph medical center also collected a ranking as the state’s most energy efficient hospital, an award for pediatrician Dr. Lou DiNicola, national recognition for Outstanding Senior Volunteer Major Melvin McLaughlin of Randolph and, noted Board Chairman Gus Meyer, continued national accolades for the Menig Extended Care Facility nursing home.“In the meantime, we’re faced with an ever changing health care landscape,” said Meyer, listing accountable care organizations, payment reform initiatives and a burgeoning number of small hospitals forming relationships with the region’s two large tertiary care centers.For some small hospitals, these shifts cause “angst.” “We like to think it brings us possibility,” said Meyer. “As both a Critical Access Hospital and now a Federally Qualified Health Center, Gifford is particularly well positioned to sustain our health as an organization and continue to fulfill our vital role in enhancing the health of the communities we serve.”The FQHC designation brings an increased emphasis on preventative care and will allow Gifford to invest in needed dental and mental health care in the community, Administrator Joseph Woodin said.Gifford is but one of only three hospitals in the country to now be both a Critical Access Hospital and Federally Qualified Health Center.“Congratulations! You’re a visionary,” said Gobeille in addressing Gifford’s new FQHC status. “It’s a brilliant move. It’s a great way to do the right thing.”And Gifford is doing the right thing.Gobeille was clear in his praise for Gifford’s management team and its commitment to stable budgets, without layoffs or compromising patient care.Community investmentGifford’s commitment also extends to the community.In a major announcement, Woodin shared that thanks to the William and Mary Markle Community Foundation, Gifford will grant a total of $25,000 to schools in 10 area towns to support exercise and healthy eating programs.Gifford annually at this time of year also hands out a grant and scholarship. The 2014 Philip Levesque grant in the amount of $1,000 was awarded to the Orange County Parent Child Center. The 2014 Richard J. Barrett, M.D., scholarship was awarded to Genia Schumacher, a mother of seven and breast cancer survivor who is in her second year of the radiology program at Champlain College.The continued use of “Gifford Gift Certificates,” encouraging local spending during the holiday, invested about $40,000 in the regional economy in December. “These small stores appreciate it. It really does make a difference,” noted Woodin, who also detailed Gifford’s buy local approach and many community outreach activities in 2013, including free health fairs and classes.The community in turn has invested in Gifford. The medical center’s 120 volunteers gave 16,678 hours in 2013, or 2,085 eight-hour workdays. Thrift Shop volunteers gave another 6,489 hours, or 811 workdays. And the Auxiliary, which operates the popular Thrift Shop, has both invested in equipment for various Gifford departments and made a major contribution toward the planned senior living community that will begin construction in May.ElectionsThe night also brought new members to the Gifford family.Corporators elected two new of their own: Matt Considine of Randolph and Jody Richards of Bethel. Considine, the director of investments for the State of Vermont, was also elected to the Board of Trustees and Lincoln Clark of Royalton was re-elected.Leaving the board after six years was Sharon Dimmick of Randolph Center, a past chairwoman, and David Ainsworth of South Royalton after nine years.‘Recipe for Success’“Recipe for Success” was the night’s theme and built around a fresh-off-the-press 2013 Annual Report sharing patient accounts of Gifford staff members going above and beyond. The report, now available on www.giffordmed.org(link is external), credits employees’ strong commitment to patient-care as helping the medical center succeed.Taking the message one step further, Gifford unveiled a new video with staff members talking about the privilege of providing local care and the medical center’s diverse services, particularly its emphasis on primary care. The video is also on the hospital’s Web site.Health care reformShifting resources to primary and preventative care is a key to health care reform initiatives, said a personable and humorous Gobeille, who emphasized affordability.“We all want care. We just have to be able to afford care,” he said. “In the two-and-a-half years I’ve been on the board, I’ve grown an optimism that Vermont could do something profound.”Gobeille described what he called “two Vermonts” – one where large companies providing their employees more affordable insurance and one where small businesses and individuals struggle to pay high costs. “The Affordable Care Act tries to fix that,” he said.The role his board is playing in the initiatives in Vermont is one of a regulator over hospital budgets and the certificate of need process, one as innovator of pilot projects aimed at redefining how health care is delivered, and paid for, and as an evaluator of the success of these initiatives as well as the administration and legislators’ efforts to move toward a single-payer system.Audience members asked questions about when a financing plan for a single-payer system would be forthcoming (after the election, Gobeille said), about how costs can be reduced without personal accountability from individuals for their health (personal accountability absolutely matters, he said) and how small hospitals can keep the doors open.Gobeille pointed to Gifford’s record of financial success and working for the best interests of patients and communities as keys. “I don’t think Gifford’s future is in peril as long as you have a great management team, and you do,” Gobeille said.TOP PHOTO: Al Gobeille, chairman of the Green Mountain Care Board, speaks at Gifford’s 108th annual corporators meeting on Saturday evening at the Randolph hospital. Joseph Woodin, Gifford’s administrator, speaks at Saturday’s Annual Meeting of the medical center’s corporators. Woodin outlined a year of success. Outgoing Gifford board member David Ainsworth arrives with wife Peggy to Saturday’s 108th Annual Meeting of the Corporators. Diane and William Brigham, corporators, arrive at Gifford’s 108th Annual Meeting on Saturday evening at the Randolph hospital. Marjorie and Dick Drysdale, corporators, arrive at Gifford’s 108th Annual Meeting on Saturday evening at the Randolph hospital. Joan Granter, left, and Irene Schaefer, corporators, arrive at Gifford’s 108th Annual Meeting on Saturday evening at the Randolph hospital.last_img read more

Is swapping premiums for taxes a fair trade?

first_imgby Morgan True vtdigger.org Many lawmakers and the Vermonters they represent have balked at the roughly $2 billion price tag for a universal health care system in Vermont.Raising that amount of revenue is widely described as necessitating the largest tax increase in state history. The tradeoff would be that Vermonters would no longer pay private premiums for health insurance and access to coverage would be decoupled from employment.However, several VTDigger readers have pointed out that the focus on the dollar amount of the tax increase is less meaningful if it’s not paired with the dollar amount Vermonters pay in premiums.Earlier this year, the administration and the Joint Fiscal Office, which counsels the Legislature on financial matters, released a consensus estimate that Vermont would need to raise between $1.8 billion and $2.2 billion in taxes to pay for Green Mountain Care, as the program is known.Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have begun to show anxiety about where that money might come from.Gov. Peter Shumlin recently backed away from a pledge to unveil a menu of tax mechanisms that could pay for Green Mountain Care, which has only served to intensify that anxiety.In a recent analysis of health care spending, the Green Mountain Care Board determined that Vermonters spent $1.9 billion on private insurance premiums in 2012.There is a two-year lag in collecting and analyzing health care spending data.Michael Costa, the administration’s health care financing expert, said in an email that it’s important to note the cost of premiums is expected to rise annually.The University of Massachusetts and Wakley Consulting Group report on financing Green Mountain Care estimates Vermonters premium costs will rise to $2.3 billion by 2017 — the earliest date when Vermont could possibly transition to a universal system.The consensus cost estimate could change dramatically — either up or down — depending on policy choices by Legislature, Costa said, such as what will be included in the Green Mountain Care benefits package and at what rate the program will reimburse providers.But right now trading private premiums for taxes appears as though it would be roughly even swap.Of course it’s not that simple. The cost of premiums is not evenly distributed among the people and organizations that pay them, and the same will inevitably be true of any tax structure.One of the major challenges, as the governor and his team has acknowledged, is divining a financing system for Green Mountain Care that is equitable.Or as Shumlin has described it on numerous occasions, a system where people pay according to their ability and where all Vermonters have access to the coverage they need by virtue of residency.If lawmakers want his administration’s two cents on how that can be achieved, he’s made it clear that’s a discussion that will have to wait for the next legislative session.last_img read more

Food gardening in US at highest level in decade

first_imgDuring the past five years there’s been a significant shift toward more Americans growing their own food in home and community gardens, increasing from 36 million households in 2008 to 42 million in 2013. That’s a 17 percent increase and represents the highest level of food gardening in more than a decade, according to a special National Gardening Association report, Garden to Table: A 5-Year Look at Food Gardening in America.The report shows that more young people, particularly millennials (ages 18-34), are the fastest growing population segment of food gardeners.  In 2008 there were 8 million millennial food gardeners.  That figure rose to 13 million in 2013, an increase of 63%.  Millennials also nearly doubled their spending on food gardening, from $632 million in 2008 to $1.2 billion in 2013. The report found that more households with children participated in food gardening, increasing participation during the same time period by 25%, from 12 million to 15 million. Additionally, there was a 29% increase in food gardening by people living in urban areas, up from 7 million in 2008 to 9 million in 2013.  Two million more households also reported participating in community gardening in 2013 than 2008, a 200% increase in five years.”This report clearly shows that there truly is a food revolution taking place in America,” said Mike Metallo, president and CEO of the National Gardening Association, who will attend the annual planting of the White House Kitchen Garden later today. “We are seeing more people, particularly young people, actively engaged in growing their own food.  The growth in just five years is pretty spectacular.”As the nation’s leading nonprofit in gardening education, the National Gardening Association, based in Williston, Vermont, has published annual statistics on food gardening in America since 1978. This special report examines data collected from 2008 – 2013, providing an in-depth look at trends, statistics and analytical data about food gardening during that period.  The data collected shows nearly all categories of food gardening with major increases during the past five years.Additional highlights from the 5-year report include:1 in 3 households are now growing food – the highest overall participation and spending levels seen in a decade.Americans spent $3.5 billion on food gardening in 2013 – up from $2.5 billion in 2008 – a 40% increase in five years.76% of all households with a food garden grew vegetables, a 19% increase since 2008.From 2008 to 2013 the number of home gardens increased by 4 million to 37 million households, while community gardens tripled from 1 million to 3 million, a 200% increase.Households with incomes under $35,000 participating in food gardening grew to 11 million – up 38% from 2008.The National Gardening Association associates the rise in food gardening to several reasons: An improving economy; strong national leadership, including the launch of the “Let’s Move” initiative and White House Kitchen Garden by First Lady Michelle Obama during the time period; action by federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to increase awareness and educational efforts toward food gardening; and more engagement and public-private partnerships through organizations like the National Gardening Association, to promote and build food gardens in communities across the country.”It’s very exciting to see more young people and families involved in growing and eating their own food through food gardening,” said Metallo.  “National leadership, particularly from the First Lady, has certainly been an important factor in the rise in these numbers. That consistent message over time makes a tremendous difference and helps fuel more community involvement in gardening.”A complete copy of Garden to Table: A 5-Year Look at Food Gardening in America can be downloaded from the National Gardening Association’s website at garden.org.  The information contained in the report was compiled by collecting data through annual surveys conducted by Harris Interactive, surveying a representative sample of U.S. Households. Estimates of the general population proportions are obtained from the most recent supplement to the Current Population Surveys. Results are weighted to the general U.S. adult (18+) household population based on known proportions among this population for education, age and gender, race/ethnicity, region, and income level.About the National Gardening Association:  The National Gardening Association (NGA) is a national 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that for more than 40 years has promoted learning through gardening to encourage personal growth.  NGA’s mission is to empower every generation to lead healthier lives, build stronger communities, and encourage environmental stewardship through educational gardening programs. NGA provided over $4 million in grants to more than 10,000 community-based organizations benefitting 2 million youth across the country.  NGA’s Gardening with Kids program provides a one-stop shop for obtaining gardening supplies, equipment and free educational resources for schools, families and community gardeners.  All net proceeds help support grants and educational resources administered by NGA.   Learn more NGA’s programs and services at garden.org or kidsgardening.org.SOURCE WILLISTON, Vt., April 2, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — The National Gardening Associationlast_img read more

BAYADA Hospice to expand palliative care in Vermont and NH

first_imgVermont Business Magazine BAYADA Hospice, with three offices in Chittenden County, announced that it has been selected by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (The CMS Innovation Center) to participate in its Medicare Care Choices Model (MCCM) demonstration project. Under this program, beginning in January 2016, BAYADA will be able to expand its existing community-based palliative care services to more patients in Vermont and New Hampshire who are seriously ill. “The CMS Innovation Center provides a framework for supporting seriously ill, hospice eligible patients who might otherwise go without access to community-based palliative and hospice care.” said Dr. John Saroyan, BAYADA Hospice Medical Director. “The Medicare Care Choices Model will allow us to engage patients who qualify for hospice but who wish to continue pursuing the full spectrum of medical and hospital-based services.” BAYADA will work with physicians who care for patients with cancer, heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and HIV/AIDS to identify patients who may be eligible for either existing palliative care services or those under the Medicare Care Choices Model. All services focus on the patient and family with three main areas: •       Patient and family goal-setting •       Pain and symptom management/palliation •       Care coordination, case management, and shared decision-making “This demonstration project is focused on improving the value of care for some of the most frail and vulnerable in our communities, and we are fully committed to working diligently to improve the effectiveness of the model in meeting the goal of high value patient-centered care for all seriously ill residents of Vermont and New Hampshire,” said Kristin Barnum, RN, MBA, BAYADA Hospice division director.The CMS Innovation Center tests various payment and service delivery models that aim to achieve better care for patients, better health for our communities, and lower costs through improved coordination, palliation and communication. For more information, visit www.innovation.cms.gov(link is external).  For more information on our hospice and palliative care services, visit www.bayada.com/services-hospice.asp(link is external)last_img read more

Marathon Health celebrates 10 Years with forum focusing on ways to improve employer-sponsored healthcare

first_imgMarathon Health LLC,Vermont Business Magazine Marathon Health, one of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies, will be celebrating its 10-year anniversary during a forum next week focusing on ways to improve employer-sponsored healthcare in America. The forum, “Back to the Land – Back to the Future of Medicine” runs Sunday through Tuesday at the Woodstock Inn and Resort. More than 130 people will be at the forum including representatives from leading national and local employers, including Vermont Country Store, Sonnax, and PC Construction. Highlights include a keynote speech by bestselling author Chris Bohjalian Monday at 9 am, and Marathon Health founder Richard Tarrant delivering a 10-year company retrospective Tuesday at 7 pm.Marathon Health was founded by Tarrant in 2005 and today provides its worksite [email protected](link sends e-mail)™ total population health management solution – including primary care, health coaching, and chronic condition coaching – to more than 75 private businesses and public entities in 39 states.Marathon Health is one of the Top 100 largest companies in Vermont by revenue ($38.1 million) and recently made Inc. Magazine’s list of the 5,000 Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America (#1079, 400 percent 3-year growth). Marathon Health clinicians provide services to more than 200,000 covered lives across the country. WHAT: Marathon Health Forum WHO:  Leading Local and National Businesses WHEN: 9 a.m. Monday, Aug. 31, 2015  7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015 WHERE: Woodstock Inn and Resort, 14 The Green Way, Woodstock, VT 05091last_img read more

Vermont Gas secures agreement with Hinesburg, completes pipeline deals

first_imgVermont Gas Systems Inc,Vermont Business Magazine In a 3-2 vote Thursday night, the Hinesburg Selectboard signed off on an agreement to allow Vermont Gas to continue its pipeline project through the Town of Hinesburg. Vermont Gas now has secured agreements with all landowners along its 41-mile route connecting Chittenden County with Addison County and Middlebury. The Hinesburg deal still needs regulatory approval by the Public Service Board. The agreement includes a permanent and a temporary easement through Geprags Park, for which the town will receive $250,000. The town will receive another $1,000 for plantings and as part of the Warbler Protection Plan and Audubon itself will also receive $1,000 for the Warbler Protection Plan. Vermont Gas has agreed to employ only horizontal directional drilling (versus the typical open trench digging) for the Geprags Park section. The horizontal drilling is less intrusive but also more expensive. The vote by the Selectboard updated the July 22 agreement. The major changes to that agreement is the horizontal drilling language and a single payment of $250,000. The Public Service Board will take up the matter when it meets next Thursday.CLICK HERE FOR AGREEMENT(link is external)VGS Statement“We want to extend our sincere appreciation to the Town of Hinesburg, the Selectboard and others for their efforts to reach resolution. This agreement brings important value to the town and allows the company to move forward with construction in Geprags. Hinesburg is the last remaining parcel needed to secure 100% access to the project’s right-of-way, and is an important step towards timely completion of the project.“This agreement provides significant investments including funding for recreational use, habitat protection and land conservation. It expands the benefits of natural gas service to almost 200 new families and businesses in town. The agreement also includes a commitment to use a horizontal directional drill (HDD), rather than traditional construction, to eliminate impacts to the park or its wetlands from construction.“We are making great progress on construction; pipe has been placed throughout most of the corridor and crews are busy welding and coating. We have also successfully completed seven horizontal drills.“There is more to do to ensure the project is completed this year and we are committed to meeting those challenges head-on, in an open and direct way. This project is about bringing the choice of a cleaner and more affordable energy to thousands of Vermont families and businesses and we look forward to delivering on our promise.”Vermont GasVermont Gas Systems is a leader in energy efficiency and innovation, offering a clean, safe, affordable choice for over 50,000 homes, businesses, and institutions in Franklin and Chittenden counties. The company plays an important role in Vermont’s clean energy future by displacing higher-emitting fuels and with its award-winning energy efficiency programs. For more information about Vermont Gas visit www.VermontGas.com(link is external), addisonnaturalgas.com(link is external)last_img read more

Public hearing Sept 15 on governor’s proposed FY17 transportation budget rescission

first_imgVermont Business Magazine The Administration will present its transportation budget rescission plan to the Legislative Joint Fiscal Committee at the Committee’s scheduled meeting starting at 10:05 am in the Ethan Allen Room of the State House on Thursday, September 15, 2016. A public hearing will be held following the Administration’s presentation. At the Emergency Board meeting held in July, an updated FY2017 revenue forecast was adopted that is $2.8 million less than the forecast used to construct the FY2017 budget adopted by the Legislature. Pursuant to 32 V.S.A. § 704(b)(1), the Agency of Transportation (VTrans) submitted a plan to realign appropriations with the reduction in the Transportation Fund Revenue.Most of the budget cuts will not impact actual projects mostly because of savings related to lower materials costs and some carry-forwards from FY16. The one exception is the local paving budget (Town Highway Class 2 Roadway), where $400,000 was cut. According to state documents, that money will be restored in next year’s (FY18) budget.The Committee will take testimony on the Governor’s Proposed FY 2017 State Transportation Budget Rescission Plan at 10:20 am. Anyone interested in testifying should come to the hearing. Time limits on testimony may apply depending on volume of participants.For more information about the format of this event or to submit written testimony, e-mail Theresa Utton-Jerman at the Joint Fiscal Office: [email protected](link sends e-mail), or call: 802-828-5767 or 802-828-2295; or fax: 802-828-2483.To view the Governor’s Proposed FY2017 Rescission Plan, go to www.leg.state.vt.us/jfo(link is external).Source: Joint Fiscal Committee 9.2.2016last_img read more

Blue Cross installs 150K solar project at Berlin HQ

first_imgBlue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont,Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont goes green with installation of roof-top solar array at its Berlin campus. Blue Cross photo.Vermont Business Magazine Blue Cross and Blue Shield of VT announced in a statement Monday that it had completed a 150 kW net metered solar array, which is installed at its Berlin campus. This system is a roof-mounted solar array comprising 860 panels, generating roughly 225,000 kW Hours per year. This array is the largest renewable energy effort to date by BCBSVT and reflects, it said in the statement, the company’s ongoing commitment and dedication to the principals of protecting Vermont’s environment. This project is expected to offset more than 169 tons of carbon dioxide per year and will eventually produce enough electric power to reduce the non-profit’s utility costs by $40,000 annually. Blue Cross is the state’s largest health insurer.BCBSVT worked with Green Mountain Power on this partnership, along with: Peck Electric, Neville Companies and energy consultant Patrick Michael.“The solar panels not only represent our commitment to corporate social responsibility and preserving Vermont’s pristine environment,” said Don George, President and CEO of BCBSVT, “but are part of a corporate initiative that is looking at all aspects of our work through the lens of environmental sustainability and cost savings. We are building a program that engages our employees, encourages personal responsibility and supports the culture in which we operate.”The company’s sustainability mission says it all – We are committed to reducing our environmental impacts, building a culture of sustainability within the BCBSVT community of employees and creating a healthy future for our employees, clients, partners and community. In early 2016, the company implemented a corporate sustainability initiative that involves a cross-divisional employee team to implement this mission. The team got right to work building on past efforts to reduce waste and enhance positive efforts. “Several years ago, we took some great steps to reduce unnecessary use of resources; we cut non-essential printing, increased recycling, began composting, installed high efficiency light fixtures and started reducing our use of electricity”, explains Stuart Lawson, Facilities Supervisor at BCBSVT.  “We posted no idling signs and our drinking fountains are being retrofitted with water bottle filling stations. As you can see, we have a lot going on, but it’s especially exciting to see the solar panels go up after many months of work.”In addition to the solar panel installation, the sustainability team hosted “How Green is Blue Day,” where employees participated in awareness-raising activities, purchased home compost bins and signed up to get reusable food containers. “Within the first two months of our program, we have already diverted 5,000 paper take-out containers from the landfill,” says Megan Peek, Community Relations Manager and corporate sustainability initiative business lead.  “This is only the beginning of the positive changes we plan to make.”For additional information on this installation, please contact Alison Partridge of BCBSVT at [email protected](link sends e-mail) or Patrick Michael at [email protected](link sends e-mail).Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont, a non-profit organization, is the state’s oldest and largest health insurer, providing coverage for about 250,000 Vermonters. It employs about 400 Vermonters at its headquarters in Berlin and its Information and Wellness Center in South Burlington’s Blue Mall, and offers group and individual health plans. More information about Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is available at www.bcbsvt.com(link is external). Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is an independent corporation operating under a license with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans.Source: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont 1.9.2017last_img read more

Gaz Metro acquires US-based Standard Solar

first_imgGreen Mountain Power Corp,Vermont Gas Systems Inc,Vermont Business Magazine Gaz Metro, the Quebec-based parent company of Vermont Gas Systems and Green Mountain Power, is expanding further into the renewable energy market with the acquisition of a Maryland-based solar firm. Valener Inc.(link is external) (TSX: VNR(link is external))(TSX: VNR.PR.A(link is external)) announced Tuesday that Gaz Metro Limited Partnership(link is external), its main investment, has acquired, through a subsidiary, Standard Solar, Inc.(link is external), a leading solar energy firm specializing in the development, installation and financing of commercial solar electric systems across the United States. This strategic deal not only expands Gaz Metro’s presence and expertise in the rapidly growing US solar energy industry, the firm said in a statement, but also opens the door to a promising approach of combining solar energy with other energy sources such as natural gas in the US.Based in Rockville, Maryland, Standard Solar is a commercial, industrial and institutional solar developer, engineering, procurement and construction management, as well as operations and maintenance services provider operating in multiple states in the US and currently has a portfolio of construction-ready projects for a total of nearly 80 MW, a significant development pipeline and over 100 MW of solar generation capacity under management services.”Gaz Metro is positioning itself to take full advantage of the projected growth in the solar energy industry, one of the fastest growing sectors in the US. What’s more, this acquisition reflects Gaz Metro’s willingness to increase its presence in the renewable energy segment while growing its current business operations,” said Sophie Brochu, President and Chief Executive Officer of Gaz Metro. “Standard Solar is a dynamic and experienced player in a growing industry led by a seasoned and highly competent management team with a sterling reputation and outstanding track record.””Solar energy is a thriving industry in the US, and this acquisition comes at a perfect time for Gaz Metro,” Brochu said. “With Standard Solar’s expertise and existing platforms, as well as our company’s long-term growth strategy, we are poised for success in the US.”Through the agreement, Gaz Metro indirectly acquires 100% of Standard Solar’s shares. The transaction is pending a regulatory approval and is expected to close in the coming weeks.About ValenerValener Inc. is a widely held public company that serves as the investment vehicle in Gaz Metro. Through its investment in Gaz Metro, Valener offers its shareholders a solid investment in a diversified and largely regulated energy portfolio in Quebec and Vermont. As a strategic partner, Valener, on the one hand, contributes to Gaz Metro’s growth, and on the other, invests in wind power production in Quebec alongside Gaz Metro. Valener favours energy sources and uses that are innovative, clean, competitive and profitable. Valener’s common and preferred shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the “VNR” symbol for common shares and the “VNR.PR.A” symbol for Series A preferred shares. www.valener.com(link is external)About Gaz MetroWith more than $7 billion in assets, Gaz Metro is a leading energy provider. It is the largest natural gas distribution company in Quebec, where its network of over 10,000 km of underground pipelines serves more than 300 municipalities and over 205,000 customers. Gaz Metro is also present in Vermont, producing and transporting electricity and distributing electricity and natural gas to meet the needs of more than 315,000 customers. Gaz Metro is actively involved in the development and operation of innovative, promising energy projects, including natural gas as fuel and liquefied natural gas as a replacement to higher emission-producing energies, the production of wind and solar power, and the development of biomethane. Gaz Metro is a major energy sector player that takes the lead in responding to the needs of its customers, regions and municipalities, local organizations and communities while also satisfying the expectations of its Partners (Gaz Metro inc. and Valener) and em ployees. www.gazmetro.com(link is external)MONTREAL, QUEBEC–(Marketwired – March 07, 2017) – Valener Inc.(link is external)last_img read more