GMP seeks use of compressed process for after-merger rate-setting

first_imgby Alan Panebaker vtdigger.org Vermontâ s two largest utilities plan to use a streamlined rate-setting procedure to â blend’their electricity rates.Gaz Metro is in the process of obtaining state approval for the purchase of Central Vermont Public Service. The Montreal-based company plans to merge its Vermont subsidiary, Green Mountain Power, with CVPS. If the deal goes through as expected, 80 percent of Vermonters will receive electricity from the new company.Once the utilities have merged, Gaz Metro will use a process called â Alternative Regulation’to request approval of its new blended rate for the combined utilities. This protocol limits public involvement but saves money by sidestepping a lengthy process with the Public Service Board.AARP-Vermont is worried that the alternative rate-setting process will limit public scrutiny of Gaz Metroâ s plan to recoup $21 million through higher rates.In 2001 the board allowed Green Mountain Power and CVPS to increase rates to cover losses associated with a power purchasing deal with Hydro-Quebec. In exchange, the board required the utilities to agree to a â windfall’sharing mechanism should either be sold. In a 2012 memorandum of understanding with the Vermont Department of Public Service, Gaz Metro agreed to return $21 million owed to CVPS ratepayers through investments in weatherization and efficiencies; it plans to recoup the money, plus 7 percent interest, through rate increases.According to one Public Service Board decision, the contract with Hydro-Quebec could have cost somewhere around $130 million in extra costs between 1999 and 2016.AARP challenged the original agreement between state regulators and the utilities. The advocacy group for seniors wanted that money to go to customers in the form of a refund or check.â If the MOU is approved, there will be no opportunity later in a rate proceeding for AARP or ratepayers to object, to submit testimony, to submit argument, or to request an investigation as to whether the $20.9 million spent on weatherization, efficiency, economic development, etc., should be in the rate base,’AARPâ s filing states.The two utilities have used the Alternative Regulation process for years. Green Mountain Power started in 2006 and CVPS in 2008. Unlike traditional â cost-of-service regulation’rate setting, which can take a number of months, the alternative process requires filings every three months. Increases or decreases in electricity costs pass through to ratepayers. Under some forms of alternative regulation, utilities can earn a larger profit if they meet performance or efficiency goals.Only CVPS, Green Mountain Power and Vermont Gas Systems, also a Gaz Metro subsidiary, use the process. They are all investor-owned rather than publicly owned. They also periodically use a full cost-of-service rate review process that allows more public input.For example, the Vermont Public Service Board approved a 7.46 percent rate increase for CVPS in early 2011, and another 4.8 percent rate increase in late 2011. On Tuesday, CVPS announced it was asking for a 2.2 percent surcharge that would go into effect in July that would cover expenses from Tropical Storm Irene.In 2011, Green Mountain Power asked for a 3.2 percent rate increase.With the more streamlined process, there is generally not a public hearing. The Department of Public Service and board decide whether to approve the new rates.Washington County Electric Co-op General Manager Avram Patt. VTD Photo/Josh LarkinThe alternative rate-setting structure is typical not controversial.Smaller, municipal or cooperative utilities generally do not use it because they have not found a way to make it work with their nonprofit structure.Avram Patt, general manager of Washington Electric Cooperative, said two years ago the community-owned electric company raised rates for the first time in 11 years, so there has not been a need for such frequent updating.Rate-setting in the context of the merger controversyDuring the last legislative session, lawmakers floated proposals to prohibit utilities from recovering money in rates for investments that do not benefit the electric system as a whole. This would include investments in thermal efficiency where a homeowner heats with fuel oil or some other non-electric source. The proposed provisions never became law.In the 2001 â bailout’agreement, the board limited the amount of money Green Mountain Power would have to share as a result of a profitable merger at $8 million and $16 million for CVPS. In 2007, when Green Mountain Power was sold to Gaz Metro, the board approved an efficiency program where the utilities would invest that money and ratepayers would benefit.Now the Department of Public Service and the utilities propose doing something similar, where the utilities will invest ratepayer money in a fund that will go toward weatherization and efficiency. That money will have to yield $25 million in energy savings for customers. Shareholders will get that $21 million investment back in rates, with 7 percent interest.That windfall requirement, which made headlines during the Legislature this session, could be approved as part of the overall docket rather than go through the more strenuous rate setting process that it would otherwise require, according to a final reply brief filed by AARP earlier this month.The utilities and the Department of Public Service agreed that investing the money in efficiency would yield more benefits than refund checks, but AARP says even if that is the case, there should be a more transparent process demonstrating how the investment benefits ratepayers.In a filing with the Public Service Board, AARP attorneys said they were worried that without the public process of traditional ratemaking, that money could be improperly spent without any recourse.â All or parts of the $20.9 million may turn out to have been imprudently spent, or may turn out to be not used and useful, and therefore not just and reasonable to recover in rates, but ratepayers will be forced to shoulder this load regardless,’the groupâ s most recent filing states.Jim Dumont, an attorney representing AARP in the docket, said it would be premature for the board to approve the expenditures before they occur.He is also concerned the process will go forward without enough substantive input from the public.â All of this elephant will pass through snake and come out the other end just the way they want it,’Dumont said.Sarah Hofmann, deputy commissioner of the Department of Public Service, said interested parties can ask for an investigation into the rationale for rate increases approved under alternative regulations.In that situation, the board would open a new case, which could take up to seven months.The advantage of the faster alternative regulation plan process as opposed to traditional rate cases, Hofmann said, is â itâ s done in real time rather than case time’and rates reflect more accurately the true price of electricity. It also saves litigation costs and allows utilities more access to credit also.Hofmann said the memorandum of understanding the department signed with the utilities offers additional safeguards for intervenors and the public.Under that MOU, the utilities must submit a report by July 1 that outlines how they will verify savings that result from the merger. Parties in the docket will be able to comment on the rate adjustments. Green Mountain Power will have to file a report each year for the next 10 years.Dorothy Schnure, a spokeswoman for Green Mountain Power, said customers will see either a rate decrease or less of an increase starting in October 2012.If the board accepts the MOU, the utilities will have to produce $2.5 million in savings for their customers in that first year. The next year it is $5 million. The utilities are required to verify $144 million in savings to customers. The $21 million in investments in efficiency, about $12 million of which will go to weatherization programs, is supposed to yield $25 million in benefits to customers through reduced electricity use.Schnure said the company is analyzing what their rate request would be this fall if nothing changed.â It will be $2.5 million less than it would be without the merger, should the merger be approved,’Schnure said. â In addition, weâ re looking for other savings to pass through to customers.âSchnure said the AARPâ s allegation that the board will not analyze the investment in the efficiency fund is incorrect. She said the board and the Department of Public Service will review how the money is spent to make sure the utilities act prudently.The utilities are asking for the alternative rate setting plan to carry through 2014, when there will be a full cost-of-service review of rates. Commercial and industrial rates will not be affected until then.Starting this summer, CVPS residential customers will pay about $87.43 on average each month. Recent rates published on the Green Mountain Power website show their residential customers purchasing a similar amount of power would pay around $84.89.Residential customers for both companies will pay the same rate starting Oct. 1, 2013, if the merger goes through. Schnure said she could not estimate what exactly the new blended rate will be. May 16, 2012 vtdigger.orglast_img read more

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Bernie Sanders to hold Senate hearing on gas prices in Burlington August 6

first_imgSenator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) today announced that the US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a field hearing on Monday in Burlington, Vermont, to explore gasoline prices in northwestern Vermont.A significant gas price gap between Burlington and the rest of the country has virtually disappeared since Sanders on July 2 first called for a federal investigation into unusually high gasoline prices in the Burlington area. ‘Many Vermonters have contacted my office wanting to know why gas prices have been significantly higher in northwestern Vermont than in the rest of the state and the country. Just about three weeks ago, for example, gas prices at stations owned by the same company were 23 cents higher in Burlington than Middlebury. I am happy to say that in recent weeks, I have detected a more competitive spirit among gas stations in Chittenden County and that gas prices here are, for the first time in months, at the same level as the national average.’ On July 5, the senator made public information showing gasoline prices in Burlington in late June were 10 cents to 43 cents greater than a Federal Trade Commission computer model projected they should be. On July 13, Sanders revealed that gasoline profit margins in the Burlington area in June were double the national average, according to a leading, independent fuel price research firm. Burlington was the most lucrative gas market in the Northeast, according to the Oil Price Information Service. Today, average gasoline prices in the greater Burlington area were identical to the national average. Both stood at $3.53 a gallon at noon today, according to GasBuddy.com. On July 2, the average retail gasoline price in greater Burlington was about 25 cents higher than the national average. Sanders is a member of the Senate energy committee. Monday’s hearing will be followed by a forum to give the public an opportunity to ask questions and make comments. Who: Sen. Bernie Sanders will chair the hearing. Witnesses include Ben Brockwell, director of data, pricing and information services for the Oil Price Information Service; Rob Leuck, vice president and regional manager of Costco Whoesale, Jim Coutts, director Franklin County Senior Center; Joe Choquette III of the Vermont Petroleum Association; and Gail Horne, owner of the Keelers Bay Variety Store (and gas station) in South Hero, Vt. What: U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Field Hearing When: 2 p.m., Monday, Aug., 6, 2012 Where: Contois Auditorium, Burlington City Hall; 149 Church St., Burlington, Vt.Source: WASHINGTON, August 1 ‘Senator Bernie Sanderslast_img read more

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RE/MAX in Rutland acquires Century 21 Premiere Properties

first_imgRE/MAX Winning Advantage in Rutland is pleased to announce that they have recently acquired Century 21 Premiere Properties, also in Rutland. The franchise name will change to RE/MAX Premiere Properties and will open its doors at 210 South Main Street. With the acquisition of the new office, RE/MAX Premiere Properties will now have the number one market share by volume and units in Rutland County.‘This’ is an incredibly exciting time for everyone on the team,’ said RE/MAX Premiere Properties Broker/Owner Ed Patch.’ ‘Our goal is to continue to strengthen our team, expand our footprint and attract productive Agents.’RE/MAX’ Premiere Properties will continue to run as’ a full-service real estate company offering residential real estate sales.’ They will continue to provide their customers with the most experienced, professional Agents available prepared to help with the buying and selling process of homes, condos, commercial properties, and land in Vermont.‘We congratulate’ RE/MAX Premiere Properties on the recent acquisition of a former Century 21 office,’’ said’ Dan Breault, Executive Vice President and Regional Director of RE/MAX of New England.’ ‘It is a true testament to their plans for continued growth in the market and we look forward to watching their progress.’Rutland,’ VT’ ‘’ January 20, 2014’ ‘’ RE/MAX’ Winning Advantage *Market share data provided by Broker Metrics.’last_img read more

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St Louis firm to provide comprehensive correctional healthcare in Vermont

first_imgCentene Corporation (NYSE: CNC(link is external)) of St Louis has announced that Centurion Managed Care, LLC has been notified by the State of Vermont of its intent to award Centurion a contract for comprehensive correctional healthcare services. Centurion, a joint venture between Centene and MHM Services Inc, will provide medical and behavioral health services to offenders and detainees housed at eight facilities throughout the state. The Vermont Department of Corrections is one of six unified state correctional systems in the US that serves the dual purpose as the state’s pre-trial jail and detention service, as well as the state’s prison system for sentenced offenders.”The Vermont DOC sought an integrated delivery approach that blends correctional healthcare services with the broader public health system of Vermont. We look forward to collaborating with the Vermont DOC and other stakeholder groups in Vermont, including the state’s Medicaid plan, Green Mountain Care, to bring our innovative programs, technology, and experience to Vermont’s public health initiatives,” said Steve Wheeler, CEO of Centurion. Centurion currently operates three additional state-wide contracts to provide correctional healthcare services to the states of Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Tennessee. The Vermont award is expected to commence operations in the first quarter of 2015.About Centene Corporation Centene Corporation, a Fortune 500 company, is a leading multi-line healthcare enterprise that provides programs and services to government sponsored healthcare programs, focusing on under-insured and uninsured individuals. Many receive benefits provided under Medicaid, including the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), as well as Aged, Blind or Disabled (ABD), Foster Care and Long Term Care (LTC), in addition to other state-sponsored/hybrid programs, and Medicare (Special Needs Plans). The Company operates local health plans and offers a range of health insurance solutions. It also contracts with other healthcare and commercial organizations to provide specialty services including behavioral health, care management software, correctional systems healthcare, in-home health services, life and health management, managed vision, pharmacy benefits management, specialty pharmacy and telehealth services.SOURCE ST. LOUIS, Nov. 21, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Centene Corporationlast_img read more

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Performance-based funding may affect UVM and Vermont state colleges

first_imgUniversity of Vermont,by Amy Ash Nixon vtdigger.org(link is external) Student retention and graduation rates, the cost of instruction, financial aid, student debt load, and job placement rates after graduation are measurements used in many states to link higher education dollars to performance-based funding. A higher education subcommittee put in place by the Legislature last session is beginning work on a performance-based funding proposal for Vermont which could affect funding for both the University of Vermont (UVM) and the Vermont State Colleges (VSC) system.The committee is looking at how many students served are from Vermont, from low-income backgrounds, are the first in their families to attend college, and come from minority groups.A proposal is due to the General Assembly and the governor by Dec. 15.Ultimately, a performance-based funding proposal could call for a portion of state funding for both UVM and the VSC system to be allocated “based upon nationally recognized and established performance measures,” according to the legislation.“One of the things that’s emerged in higher education has been the move toward attempting to see whether creating performance-based standards to meet specific state goals is a better way of utilizing scarce state resources rather than a traditional model,” said Scott Giles, CEO of Vermont Student Assistance Corp.Currently, $67 million in state funds is split between UVM and the VSC system, with UVM taking a larger portion, nearly two-thirds of the pot.Of that amount, UVM receives $42.5 million and VSC receives $24.3 million to spread among five colleges.The UVM Allied Health Sciences programs also receive an additional $1.2 million in state appropriations.The Vermont Student Assistance Corp. receives a state appropriation annually, which was $19.4 million.Increasing the number of Vermonters with postsecondary education is important for the state’s economic goals, stakeholders have said.Tricia Coates, spokeswoman for the Vermont State Colleges, said that in 2009 state leaders agreed that by 2020 a total of 60 percent of Vermont adults should hold a postsecondary degree or credential.The state is at about 45 percent of that goal.VSC Chancellor Jeb Spaulding on Wednesday said performance-based funding is something the executive and legislative branches in Vermont have been moving toward, and he welcomes that approach for higher education.“It’s totally consistent with the direction being moved in by many, many states,” said Spaulding. “I certainly welcome the conversation.”Spaulding said the subcommittee will need to home in on priorities for Vermont.“I’m optimistic we can work with the committee and hopefully develop a proposal for the Legislature,” he said. “In a time of constrained revenues and budget challenges, it does make sense for the Legislature and the governor to say, ‘OK, if we don’t have a lot of new money, let’s make sure the money we’re spending on higher education is being spent in a way that’s most likely to give us the desired outcomes we want.’”In other states, the performance-based funding model has incentivized colleges to educate more low-income and first-in-family college students.“It’s changed institutional behavior and led to a higher rate of citizens in those states earning degrees, and that would be a fine thing for the state of Vermont and our economic future,” Spaulding said.UVM President Tom Sulivan. Vermont Business Magazine file photoTom Sullivan, president of UVM, “fully endorses” performance-based funding for higher education.“UVM is performing exceedingly well in all objective bases, including financial access, affordability, retention, graduation, and career placement metrics compared to its national peers,” Sullivan said. “We can demonstrate through our outcomes and economic impact data that we are spending the state appropriation very wisely, and that UVM’s modest state appropriation represents a remarkable return on investment in Vermont.”VSC graduation, debt, student aidA total of 12,305 students are enrolled in Vermont State Collges and 84 percent are from Vermont.The retention rates for the 2013 to 2014 school year show Vermont Technical College with the highest overall student retention rates, with 71 percent on average for all students and 72 percent for Vermont students.The four-year graduation rates for first-time, full-time students within the VSC system are highest for Castleton both for the overall student body and students from Vermont, at 35 percent and 37 percent, respectively.The graduation rates for first-time, full-time Vermont students from Johnson are 20 percent; for Lyndon, 18 percent, and from Vermont Tech, 35 percent.At CCV, it’s lower, 5 and 6 percent respectively, but many students at CCV take only a course or a few courses and may transfer out and complete degrees elsewhere, which is typical for community colleges, said spokeswoman Pamela Chisholm.CCV’s graduation rate overall is 17 percent, compared to the national average for community colleges of 18 percent, said Chisholm.Within the VSC system overall, of 1,904 total degrees awarded (not including master’s level degree recipients), 949 were low-income, 1,125 were first generation, 147 were from minority groups and 987 were adults 25 years or older and 85 percent were earned by Vermonters.VSC Financial AidThe information shows that 80 percent of CCV students receive financial aid with an average award of $4,765; at Castleton, 71 percent of students receive financial aid, with an average award of $6,339; at Johnson, 85 percent receive assistance averaging $7,480; at Lyndon, 84 percent receive financial help, averaging $7,104; and at Vermont Tech, 74 percent of students receive aid, an average award of $7,100.The average student debt load for the VSC system is:Castleton, $22,096;Johnson, $20,963;Lyndon, $19,944;Vermont Tech, $21,892;CCV, $7,319.Eighty-four percent of the VSC students last year were Vermonters, according to the VSC presentation.UVM student, cost dataAt UVM, the net cost of attendance after all non-loan financial aid for Vermonters in fiscal year 2014 was $16,655; for out-of-state it was $33,057.The average student aid award for Vermonters was $9,467, a 37 percent discount, while for out-of-state students, a 30 percent discount with aid averaging $13,991, was awarded.A total of 31.4 percent of the undergraduates at UVM in the fall of 2014 were Vermonters, said UVM spokesman Enrique Corredera on Monday. Including graduate students, UVM’s student body is 36.4 percent Vermonters, he said.Student loan debt for Vermont students with loans averages $21,475 upon graduation, and $26,000 for out-of-state students, compared to the national average of $28,600, according to the UVM presentation.The retention rate from fall 2013 to fall 2014 for Vermonters was 92 percent at UVM, 85 percent for out-of-state students.Degree completion rates at UVM for Vermonters is 64 percent at UVM, and 61 percent for out-of-state students.First-generation students earning a degree included 269 students from Vermont, and 207 out-of-state; the number of Pell recipients earning a degree included 243 from Vermont and 247 out-of-state; and students from minority groups included 67 Vermonters, and 146 out-of-state students, the UVM data shows.VERY TOP PHOTO: UVM graduation 2015 by Sally McCaylast_img read more

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Phil Scott disappointed in Shumlin Administration’s decision on EB-5 investor solicitation

first_imgVermont Business Magazine Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott today issued the following statement on recent revelations the Shumlin Administration allowed Jay Peak’s owners to continue to solicit investors months after the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) launched its investigation. Scott is also a Republican candidate for governor.“As a public servant and candidate for Governor, my priorities are growing the economy, making Vermont more affordable and restoring faith and trust in state government,” Scott said in a statement. “With proper oversight, the EB-5 program can be a useful tool for stimulating much-needed investment and economic growth in Vermont.“I was disappointed to learn from Vermont Public Radio(link is external)’s recent report that the Shumlin Administration enabled the owners of the EB-5 projects in the Northeast Kingdom, who are accused of multiple counts of fraud, to continue to solicit investors for months after the SEC had suspended that permission for Jay Peak.  Even after repeatedly failing to provide compliance information to state regulators, they were allowed to raise more money. By the Administration’s own admission, it was a ‘calculated risk.’  Yet, they’ve not yet explained why they took this risk or why they allowed the problem to continue to grow.“Whatever their reasons for allowing the scheme to continue while under federal investigation, the fact that journalists had to dig up this information further undermines faith and trust in state government.“It also points to the lack of accountability and checks and balances that develop in a system of government controlled entirely by one party.“In order to grow the economy, we need leaders who will capably and transparently oversee programs and put regulatory responsibility ahead of politics. This is essential to restoring faith and trust in state government, the integrity of Vermont’s regulatory system and the value of this economic development program.”Source: Scott campaign. 7.14.2016last_img read more

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Nasal spray flu vaccine not recommended for next flu season, shots only

first_imgVermont Business Magazine Following new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nasal spray flu vaccine will not be available in the U.S. for the upcoming flu season. Instead, all flu vaccinations will be given as a standard shot. The nasal spray flu vaccine has been offered in recent years to healthy individuals ages 2 to 49. This past June, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to recommend that it not be used during the 2016-17 flu season. New research has shown a significant difference between the effectiveness of the standard flu shot and the nasal spray flu vaccine. During the 2015-16 flu season, the flu shot was 63 percent effective at preventing or reducing influenza-related illness in people ages 2 to 17. However, the nasal spray, which accounted for fewer than 10 percent of all flu vaccinations, was only 3 percent effective. Scientists are continuing to investigate the reasons for the low effectiveness of the nasal spray vaccine.“Each year the effectiveness of the flu vaccine varies depending on how good a match it is to the type of flu strains that circulate during the season, but 3 percent is far too low a level to ensure protection,” said Christine Finley, immunization program manager for the Vermont Department of Health.Although the nasal spray won’t be used for flu vaccines this year, CDC and the Health Department continue to recommend everyone age 6 months and older get a yearly flu shot. At this time, there is no indication that there will be a shortage of vaccine.Flu vaccination can reduce illness and prevent flu-related hospitalizations:Vaccination helps protect individuals from getting sickThe flu vaccine lowers the risk of illness in people who cannot get a flu shot, or who are more vulnerable to getting the flu – such as older adults, infants younger than 6 months and people with chronic health conditionsVaccinated individuals who do get sick experience milder symptoms and fewer flu-related hospitalizations among adultsGetting a flu shot during pregnancy has been shown to protect both the mother and her baby for several months after birthVaccination is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complications(link is external) from fluFor more information about the influenza vaccine visit:https://templatelab.com/key-facts-about-seasonal-flu-vaccine/(link is external)Source: Vermont Department of Health 8.18.2016last_img read more

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UVM Study: Elephant poaching costs Africa $25 million a year in lost tourism

first_imgAn elephant observes zebras and other animals in Namibia’s Etosha National Park. A new study shows that elephant poaching costs African economies $25 million per year in lost tourism revenue. (Photo: Robin Naidoo, WWF)by Joshua E. Brown, UVM (link sends e-mail)In Africa, tens of thousands of elephants are killed by poachers each year. Now a new study shows that this poaching crisis costs African countries around $25 million annually in lost tourism revenue. The research was published November 1 in the journal Nature Communications. The research, undertaken by scientists at the University of Vermont’s Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and the University of Cambridge, represents the first continent-wide assessment of the economic losses that the current elephant poaching surge is inflicting on nature-based tourism economies in Africa.“Conservation is often seen as a luxury,” says Brendan Fisher an economist at the University of Vermont who co-led the new study, “but our work shows that it pays big to protect elephants.”Comparing this lost revenue with the cost of halting declines in elephant populations due to poaching, the study(link is external) determines that investment in elephant conservation is economically favorable across the majority of African elephants’ range.”While there have always been strong moral and ethical reasons for conserving elephants, not everyone shares this viewpoint. Our research now shows that investing in elephant conservation is actually smart economic policy for many African countries,” said study author Robin Naidoo, lead wildlife scientist at WWF and an affiliate of UVM’s Gund Institute.Poaching problemsPoachers kill between 20,000-30,000 African elephants each year for the illegal ivory trade, funded by global organized crime syndicates and fueled largely by demand in China and elsewhere in Asia. In just the past ten years, Africa’s elephants have declined by more than 20 percent.”We know that within parks, tourism suffers when elephant poaching ramps up. This work provides a first estimate of the scale of that loss, and shows pretty convincingly that stronger conservation efforts usually make sound economic sense even when looking at just this one benefit stream,” said study co-author Andrew Balmford, a professor in the University of Cambridge’s Department of Zoology and an affiliate of UVM’s Gund Institute.“If you close your eyes and think about Africa, there’s an elephant in that picture,” says Fisher. “So it makes perfect sense that as elephants disappear off a landscape tourists are less likely to visit those places.”The research—using statistical modelling—shows that tourism revenue lost to the current poaching crisis exceeds the anti-poaching costs necessary to stop the decline of elephants in east, southern, and west Africa. Rates of return on elephant conservation in these regions are positive, signaling strong economic incentive for countries to protect elephant populations.”The average rate of return on elephant conservation in east, west, and south Africa compares favorably with rates of return on investments in areas like education, food security and electricity,” said UVM’s Fisher, associate professor in UVM’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources(link is external) and Gund Institute(link is external). “For example, for every dollar invested in protecting elephants in East Africa, you get about $1.78 back. That’s a great deal.”However, for countries in central Africa, the study finds that elephant-based tourism cannot currently be expected to contribute substantially to elephant conservation. In these remote, forested areas where tourism levels are lower and elephants are typically more difficult to see, different mechanisms will be necessary to halt elephant declines.“The economic argument is helpful,” says UVM’s Brendan Fisher, “but only if we have a clear ethical foundation that we should not be slaughtering elephants. Period.”last_img read more

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AAA: Safe winter driving

first_imgVermont Business Magazine AAA Northern New England will host a press conference along with the Vermont Agency of Transportation, Vermont State Police, Vermont Highway Safety Alliance and the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation to raise awareness for vehicle safety during this winter season. Each year, ice and snow brings a rash of crashes to Vermont’s roads as drivers reacquaint themselves with winter conditions.  Last year, AAA came to the rescue of over 175,000 members in Northern New England, during the winter months and in most cases the situation could have been avoided by being better prepared for the conditions and modifying driving behavior.AAA and the State of Vermont are urging motorists to plan ahead, slowdown in adverse driving conditions, give plow trucks plenty of room, and prepare your car and yourself for the challenges Vermont weather brings.  As we celebrate Thanksgiving, AAA expects a record number 2.18 million News England drivers on the road. We remind all drivers this holiday week to buckle up, put your phones down and drive impaired free.  With 14% of crashes happening in parking lots, safety advocates urge motorist and pedestrians to use extra caution as the holiday shopping season kicks off with Black Friday this week.Who:                   Dan Goodman- Manager of Public Affairs, AAA Northern New England                                              Michael Pieciak – Commissioner, Vermont Department of Financial Regulation                             Lieutenant John Flannigan- Vermont State Police                             Rejean LaFleche Jr – General Manager District 5, Vermont Agency of Transportation                             Glen Button- Chair, Vermont Highway Safety Alliance                       When:                  Monday, November 21, 201610 amWhere:                Maintenance District 5 “Fort Ethan Allen” Garage                                189 Troy Avenue, Colchester, VTWhat:                   Each of the respective presenters will be available for individual interviews after the media event and showcase their area of expertise. There will be a plow truck, police cruiser and vehicle maintenance demonstration on tires and battery care.last_img read more

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UVM study: CR strategy could save 25,000 lives and prevent 180,000 hospitalizations annually

first_imgby Nancy Stearns Bercaw UVM (link sends e-mail)More than two million Americans experience some type of a cardiac event every year. Whether they’ve had a heart attack or coronary revascularization procedure, such as bypass surgery or coronary stent placement, doctors typically recommended these patients participate in Cardiac Rehabilitation (CR) as outpatients. However, despite the proven benefits of increased longevity and reduced hospitalizations with CR, only 20 to 30 percent of eligible patients actually participate.Philip Ades, MD (Photo: Larner COM Design & Photography)Why are the rates for this comprehensive secondary prevention program so low?  And how can they be improved?An article published online November 14, 2016 in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings (link is external)by lead author Philip Ades, M.D., professor of medicine at The Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont and associate director of the Vermont Center on Behavior and Health, offers answers and solutions. Written by participants of the Cardiac Rehabilitation Collaborative (CRC), a group of experts convened by Million Hearts(link is external), the paper identifies ways to increase participation rates to at least 70 percent among eligible patients – an outcome that, if adopted nationwide, could save 25,000 lives and reduce hospitalizations by 180,000 annually. According to the report, two steps are necessary to substantially increase CR participation: First, the systematic referral of eligible patients needs to be increased and, second, the successful enrollment and adherence of those who are referred to CR needs to be optimized.“While there are many reasons that individuals do not attend CR, including geographic availability of a program, the primary reason – and one that is modifiable – is that doctors and caregivers do not recommend it strongly enough,” says Ades.  “Referral and enrollments would be substantially improved if the hospital electronic discharge process required the physician to address CR referral, such that appropriate patients leave the hospital with a CR appointment scheduled for a week or so after hospital discharge,” Ades says, adding that a “liaison” should be assigned to meet with each patient to introduce the concept of CR and help coordinate the referral process.The authors of the paper found that automatic electronic medical record referrals combined with the use of a liaison led to referral rates of 86 percent and participation rates of over 70 percent compared to 32 percent in controls who received neither intervention.Participation rates would skyrocket, say Ades and his colleagues, if CR referral was considered to be a “quality of care indicator,” like aspirin and statin use after a heart attack. The authors reference a study done using the American College of Cardiology’s National Cardiovascular Data Registry that documented a referral rate to “over 80 percent in hospitals participating in quality improvement activities.“ The Cardiac Rehabilitation Collaborative is an open forum of individuals and organizations committed to improving the utilization of cardiac rehabilitation. Co-led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017, Million Hearts supports cardiac rehabilitation as a life-saving and life-enhancing intervention. “We are thrilled the members of CRC have banded together to boost participation in this important program,” said Janet Wright, M.D., F.A.C.C., and executive director of Million Hearts. “We know cardiac rehabilitation is vastly underutilized by eligible patients – and particularly among women, older Americans, people of color and those living in rural communities. Getting more eligible patients into cardiac rehab can save lives, and result in better health and quality of life for thousands of Americans each year.”Collaborators on the “Increasing Cardiac Rehabilitation Participation from 20 to 70 Percent: A Road Map from the Million Hearts Cardiac Rehabilitation Collaborative” publication include:  Steven J. Keteyian Ph.D., Director, Preventive Cardiology, Henry Ford Hospital;Larry F. Hamm, Ph.D., Professor and Director, Clinical Exercise Physiology Program, Department of Exercise and Nutrition Science, The George Washington University;  Karen Lui R.N, M.S., GRQ LLC, Vienna, VA;Kimberly Newlin, A.N.P., Clinical Manager, Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, Sutter Roseville Medical Center, Roseville, CA; Donald S Shepard, Ph.D., Professor, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University; and,Randal J. Thomas M.D., M.S., Professor of Medicine, Medical Director, Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, Department of Cardiovascular Diseases, Mayo ClinicWatch a video of Ades explaining the study results here(link is external).Source: UVM 11.14.2016last_img read more

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