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Herb Swanson / swanpix.com

NEK Grid Constrained By Too Much Renewable Energy

The push for renewable energy has been strong in Vermont. So strong that the grid in northeast Vermont sometimes gets so overloaded that renewable energy projects are ordered offline.

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From social media to blogging to the digital revolution, the world of media news is changing, and if consumers once were expected to passively consume the news they get, they're now demanding more from the people who report the news of the day.

Dan Gillmor welcomes this future. And it's the goal of his new book and project, called Mediactive.

The State Public Service Board is hearing testimony on a proposed wood-chip-fired power plant in North Springfield.

The 35 megawatt project would be Vermont's largest biomass plant.

Developers of the proposed plant say it will create jobs and help the state meet its goals for renewable energy.

Winstanley Enterprises is the company behind the plan, and it built North Springfield Industrial Park, where the plant would be built.

Winstanley partnered with Weston Solutions, which specializes in sustainable power projects.

Job losses in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene were in many cases temporary, lasting only as long as it took businesses to repair damage from the flood.

The financial impact of those layoffs has been more lasting, but lawmakers may have found a way to soften the blow.

Senate Delays License Bill For Migrant Workers

Apr 3, 2013

The Vermont Senate is delaying action until next week on a bill allowing immigrant farm workers to become Vermont drivers.

The Senate was going to debate the measure this week. It was approved last week by the Transportation Committee by a vote of 4-1.

But now it's being sent to the Finance Committee for review because it contains a fee - which an immigrant would pay to get the special driving privilege card.

Lynx Sightings On The Rise

Apr 3, 2013

The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department says sightings of Canada lynx are on the rise in the Northeast Kingdom.

Officials say there were only four confirmed sightings of the animals in Vermont between the late 1700s and early 2000s but say sightings have been increasing every year since 2003.

The department is doing surveys to determine the extent and distribution of the animal in Vermont.

Lynx are listed as threatened under the federal endangered species act and as endangered in Vermont. They are rarely seen because they are nocturnal and secretive.

Rutland Hospital Plans Methadone Clinic

Apr 3, 2013

The Rutland Regional Medical center is hoping to open a methadone clinic by fall.

Last week the hospital's board of directors voted to move forward with a state Department of Health plan to open a drug treatment center that police and health officials say is needed to treat people addicted to heroin and prescription painkillers.

Hospital spokeswoman Priscilla Latkin says the target date is Oct. 1

The facility will open with enough staff to handle 400 people a year but will probably not come close to that number of patients during its first 12 months in operation.

AP/Jeannie Nuss / Oil covers the ground around a slide in Mayflower, Ark., on April 1, 2013, days after a pipeline ruptured and spewed oil over

An oil spill in Arkansas may add urgency to Vermont legislation that would regulate oil pipelines.

Environmentalists point to similarities between the pipeline in Arkansas that ruptured and one in northern Vermont that could be used to ship tar sands oil.

The accident last week in Mayflower, AR spilled about 80,000 gallons of oil and forced the evacuation of 22 homes.

The 20-inch, underground line was used to carry tar sands oil from western Canada to Gulf Coast refineries.

The Senate Transportation committee is set to make a key change in the gas tax bill that was adopted by the House several weeks ago.

Lawmakers are eyeing the gas tax as a way to raise new revenue to allow the state to take full advantage of all federal matching money that's available.

The Transportation Fund has a major shortfall this year because the gas tax is levied on a per gallon basis nd sales have dropped more than 40 million gallons over the past 7 years.

AP/Toby Talbot

The House Transportation Committee is considering a bill that would explore why gasoline prices are higher in certain areas of Vermont.

Gas prices in the northwestern part of the state have been considerably higher than many other regions. The average disparity in prices in Chittenden County is about 22 cents.

Rep. Chris Pearson, P-Burlington, is sponsoring a measure that would require distributors to provide data to the attorney general’s office.

Vt. Bills Target Distracted Driving

Apr 2, 2013
AP/Toby Talbot / A driver talks on the phone on Tuesday in Montpelier.

Vermont lawmakers are continuing their efforts to crack down on distracted driving, with bills that would boost the penalties for texting while driving and ban all hand-held electronic devices when driving through road construction zones.

Two House committees are studying those measures, while prospects for a proposed outright ban on using portable electronic devices while driving appear slim.

Vermonters already are banned from texting while driving and drivers under 18 are barred from using any portable electronic device.

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