Earlier this week, Governor Shumlin signed into law a bill that will make it easier for homeowners and businesses with small power sources- like solar panels on their roof- to get a credit for electricity they send to the grid.

State utility regulators have allowed Entergy Vermont Yankee to operate the state’s only nuclear plant through the end of the year.

The Vermont Public Service Board on Friday also approved an agreement between the state and Entergy that requires the company to pay $10 million for economic development in Windham County and to set up a $25 million fund to restore the Vernon site after decommissioning.

AP File Photo

Vermont utility regulators have until March 31 to decide whether to approve a tentative agreement between Entergy Vermont Yankee and the Shumlin Administration.

The pact calls for Entergy to pay $10 million to help with economic recovery after Vermont Yankee closes later this year. But opponents say the state would lose more than it gains if the deal goes forward.

National Wildlife Federation

At several town meetings held this past week in New Hampshire, voters weighed in on non-binding resolutions opposing the flow of tar sands oil through their communities.

But the town of Lancaster, on the Vermont border, sent a resounding message of support for a pipeline company some worry will carry tar sands oil from Canada to Maine.

The two companies that own the pipelines that now carry crude oil west from Portland to Quebec insist they have no immediate plans to reverse that flow and change the fuel to the more corrosive tar sands oil.  

Earlier this week, Montpelier officials announced their goal of becoming the country’s first “Net Zero capitol city”.

The idea is to minimize the use of fossil fuels by investing in renewable energy alternatives such as wind, solar, hydro and biofuels.

The city has partnered with Green Mountain Power, Efficiency Vermont and a number of other groups and businesses.

The chair of the Montpelier Energy Advisory Committee, Dan Jones, says Vermonters will no longer be able to support the fossil fuel infrastructure they're used to.

Kirk Carapezza / VPR

The City of Montpelier has launched an effort to become the country's first "net zero capital city."

City officials have coined the initiative Net Zero Montpelier, and have partnered with Green Mountain Power, Efficiency Vermont, and a list of other groups and business. The Net Zero Montpelier website describes the project this way:

National Wildlife Federation

Canadian regulators have announced that they will allow the reversal of a pipeline that some worry could bring tar sands oil from Alberta to Montreal.

The approval of the controversial application by Enbridge, a Canadian pipeline company, to reverse the flow of its pipeline currently carrying crude oil was announced Thursday afternoon on the website of the National Energy Board.

Angela Evancie / VPR

Addison County sent a strong message of opposition to Phase II of the Vermont Gas pipeline at Town Meetings held on Monday and Tuesday.

At Cornwall's Town Meeting on Monday evening, voters passed a non-binding resolution to oppose the Addison-Rutland Natural Gas Project, 126-16.

Also on Monday, residents in Shoreham also approved a non-binding resolution to oppose Phase II of the pipeline, 63-38.

And Monkton voters strongly denounced the pipeline on Tuesday, with three speakers delivering prepared remarks against the project and no one speaking in support.

Susan Keese / VPR

The impact of high-elevation wind turbines on waterways should be carefully watched to reduce the chance of increased flooding downstream. That was the advice from a water resource engineer to a group of Grafton residents hoping to prevent an industrial wind project in their town.

The Grafton forum was the third event in a series held by local wind opponents and Vermonters for a Clean Environment, a statewide nonprofit group. The local opposition group formed after the Spanish energy giant Iberdrola Renewables built three wind test towers in Grafton and Weston.  

AP Photo/ Winfried Rothermel

Some local residents are finding that it’s harder now to find wood pellets to fuel the stoves they are using to heat their homes, and those who produce and sell the pellets say there are reasons they’re in shorter supply this year.

Michelle Hogan of Bennington said she had noticed the problem recently and couldn’t find pellets in many local and national stores.

“Across the board, it’s hit or miss. They [store employees] tell you the truck’s coming in, [but] the truck doesn’t come in. Three days later, the truck comes in. By the time you get back, they’re gone,” she said.

Paul Carroll/Flickr

Vermont may have avoided some of the most extreme sub-zero temperatures during the Polar Vortex a few weeks back, but even still, this winter has been a cold one.

Staying safe means more than just wearing an extra sweater. There’s an up tick in residential fires during the winter. The region has been hit with several destructive blazes over the past few months.

Heating systems cause many of them, second only to kitchen fires. There have been at least 30 calls for Red Cross assistance this month alone.

Nina Keck

Green Mountain Power’s new $2.75 million Energy Innovation Center opens today in Rutland.  The facility was created out of what had been two blighted downtown properties and fulfills one of the key promises GMP made to Rutland when it purchased CVPS almost 18 months ago.

Vermont Gas Systems announced a 5.86 percent rate reduction today after the state’s Public Service Board approved the change.

Vermont Gas spokesman Steve Wark said the reduction, which went into effect Nov. 1, is driven by cheaper supply out of Canada.

“This reduction comes as a result of lower transmission costs up in the TransCanadian pipeline system,” Wark said.

Wark said this month’s reduction is the company’s 16th since 2008 and keeps the price of natural gas around half the going rates for oil and propane.

Claudia Marshall

The environmental group 350 Vermont is making plans for increased activism against climate change.  On the heels of its first-ever annual meeting, the group is focusing on targets from Montpelier to Washington.

About a hundred activists -- mostly volunteers -- spent most of their Saturday swapping ideas about how to get Vermont to cut consumption of fossil fuels. Say’s the group’s Maeve McBride, “it has to be a shotgun approach.  We’re hitting lots of different things at the same time.”

The developer of a major wind project in the Green Mountain National Forest has been unable to reach an agreement to sell the power it would produce.

The project’s state permit is contingent on a long term power purchase agreement with a Vermont utility. But the developer says it’s not backing out at this point.

The Deerfield Wind project would consist of 15 turbines on ridge tops in Searsburg and Readsboro.  Its developer is a subsidiary of the Spanish energy giant Iberdrola Renewables.

Senator Bernie Sanders with Governor Peter Shumlin at a Nov. 4, 2013 press event announcing the solar test center.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR

Sen. Bernie Sanders and Gov. Peter Shumlin announced a new, federally funded solar site in Williston on Monday designed to host experimental solar technology.

Sandia National Laboratories is responsible for management of the Williston location and four others across the nation ­– mostly in the south and southwest. The importance of the Vermont site, officials said, is that it will help the nation’s solar industry improve solar technology for cold weather areas.

John Dillon- VPR

Renewable energy businesses are calling on Vermont to meet 20 percent of its energy needs in six years from sustainable energy sources.

The goals include more solar and wind systems, plus a carbon tax to fund new investments in efficiency programs.

Vermont now meets about 11 percent of its energy demand through renewable generation.

Renewable Energy Vermont, the trade association for wind, solar, biomass and other renewable developers, says it’s past time to up that percentage.

Vermont Gas Systems says it has cleared a key milestone in the development of a proposed natural gas pipeline through Addison County.

The company has reached an agreement with the Addison County Regional Planning Commission that addresses numerous concerns the commission had raised.

Adam Lougee is director of the commission. He says Vermont Gas has agreed to provide service to several villages along the pipeline route, which he says will provide an economic benefit to homeowners and businesses.