Utilities, sugarmakers grapple with cost of storms - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Utilities, sugarmakers grapple with cost of storms

Posted: Updated:
JOHNSON, Vt. -

Inside Vermont Electric Co-op in Johnson, employees are glued to screens, monitoring the grid and the weather.

Nine days ago a series of storms began knocking out power. Since then, the typical customer -- of which there are 34,000 -- has lost and regained electricity -- twice. "There's nobody who has been out of power that entire time," said VEC's CEO, David Hallquist.

Hallquist said every morning workers wake up to more outages as trees splinter and fall under the weight of ice and snow. At points, the Co-op deployed 12 times its usual staff to keep up. The repair bill is nearly $7million and rising. "We expect to get about 75-percent of this reimbursed; however, if we didn't get it reimbursed it would be about 8-percent rates on a one-year basis," Hallquist said.

Federal assessors will survey damage Thursday or Friday. But regardless of what they find, Green Mountain Power won't see a dime to cover its $4 million dollar cleanup cost. That's because the private company isn't eligible for public emergency management funds like the co-op.

As a result of this storm and others, GMP rate-payers will see monthly bills grow by a little less than 1.5 percent over the year.  Company spokespeople say that translates into about $1.53/month for most. "The good news is there are other costs that fluctuate for the first quarter of next year. We have a power supply adjuster that will pretty much offset the storm charge, so there will be very little effect on customers for the first quarter of next year," said GMP's Dotty Schnure.

The storm could also force maple sugar producers to tap out -- damage to sap lines is still unknown. Vermont Maple Sugar Makers' Association officials are asking producers to report their experiences. "Really going to be a month or two as they get out in the woods and start to clean things up and then they'll really get a sense of how much they can get back online," said the Association's Executive Director Matt Gordon.

Insurance policies are unlikely to cover damage. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expected to help, but the extent is unclear.  Outage numbers are improving again, but the forecast is also up in the air and another storm could melt away gains and margins. When a warm spell does eventually arrive, that could also mean outages as bent trees spring back up and into wires, but spokespeople say that's generally a much easier and fast fix.

Both GMP and VEC officials say they budget for storm repairs every year but nothing like this. Some say given the growing strength of storms in the area, the industry may need to consider expanding tree-trimming operations to create more space between trees and power lines.

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Officer involved shooting in Bennington Police Dept.

    Officer involved shooting in Bennington Police Dept.

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 12:22 AM EDT2014-04-23 04:22:02 GMT
    Police say there has been an officer involved shooting inside the Bennington Police Department. It happened just before 9 Tuesday evening. Authorities are releasing very few details. But say the Bennington Police Chief has called in the Vermont State Police to investigate after an officer allegedly shot a man in the lobby of the police station. No word yet on what prompted the shooting. The injured man was taken to a hospital. Police would not comment on the severity of his injuries. Initial ...More >>
    Police say there has been an officer involved shooting inside the Bennington Police Department. It happened just before 9 Tuesday evening. Authorities are releasing very few details. But say the Bennington Police Chief has called in the Vermont State Police to investigate after an officer allegedly shot a man in the lobby of the police station. No word yet on what prompted the shooting. The injured man was taken to a hospital. Police would not comment on the severity of his injuries. Initial ...More >>
  • Champlain College housing plans put on hold

    Champlain College housing plans put on hold

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 12:22 AM EDT2014-04-23 04:22:42 GMT
    It's a fight that's pitting Champlain College against the Queen City. The school says it's not giving up on building more student housing, even after being denied land-use permits. Years ago, the college made a commitment to create housing for all students but that goal has hit a snag, with their recent construction plans on hold.The project would create more than 300 beds for Champlain students on St. Paul Street, but the Development Review Board denied the permits the college needed based o...More >>
    It's a fight that's pitting Champlain College against the Queen City. The school says it's not giving up on building more student housing, even after being denied land-use permits. Years ago, the college made a commitment to create housing for all students but that goal has hit a snag, with their recent construction plans on hold.The project would create more than 300 beds for Champlain students on St. Paul Street, but the Development Review Board denied the permits the college needed based o...More >>
  • Burlington school budget on it's way back to voters

    Burlington school budget on it's way back to voters

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 11:56 PM EDT2014-04-23 03:56:59 GMT
    A new Burlington school budget is on its way to voters that is more expensive and has more cuts than the last version.The board of finance approved a $67.6 million budget. On Town Meeting Day voters shot down a budget that was about a million dollars less than this new budget. After a recent audit that uncovered a $2.5 million dollar deficit, the board was forced to slash $2.5 million in programming and staff. School board chair Patrick Halladay acknowledges concerns about a larger budget wit...More >>
    A new Burlington school budget is on its way to voters that is more expensive and has more cuts than the last version.The board of finance approved a $67.6 million budget. On Town Meeting Day voters shot down a budget that was about a million dollars less than this new budget. After a recent audit that uncovered a $2.5 million dollar deficit, the board was forced to slash $2.5 million in programming and staff. School board chair Patrick Halladay acknowledges concerns about a larger budget wit...More >>
  • Amphibians on the move

    Amphibians on the move

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 12:23 AM EDT2014-04-23 04:23:09 GMT
    People across the state are helping out their amphibian friends on the move. Biologists say this annual salamander crawl happens on the first warm rainy nights of spring like Tuesday night. Over half a dozen of different critters from frogs to spotted salamanders travel to breeding grounds. But often, experts say, that means crossing busy roads which can be deadly for a large number of amphibians. But groups on Pond Road in Shelburne, are giving a helping hand to get the salamanders safely ac...More >>
    People across the state are helping out their amphibian friends on the move. Biologists say this annual salamander crawl happens on the first warm rainy nights of spring like Tuesday night. Over half a dozen of different critters from frogs to spotted salamanders travel to breeding grounds. But often, experts say, that means crossing busy roads which can be deadly for a large number of amphibians. But groups on Pond Road in Shelburne, are giving a helping hand to get the salamanders safely ac...More >>
  • Vermont man accused of identity theft

    Vermont man accused of identity theft

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 12:23 AM EDT2014-04-23 04:23:34 GMT
    A Vermont man is accused of using stolen identities in a scheme to defraud banks now faces federal charges. Prosecutors say 35-year-old Brian Wyer used identities of Ohio and Kansas residents to obtain two Vermont non-driver ID cards. He then allegedly used the fraudulent IDs to open bank accounts in Massachusetts withdrawing about $75,000. Wyer was indicted in Vermont in June and taken into custody by U.S. marshals in Illinois last month. During his arraignment Monday in Burlington the judge...More >>
    A Vermont man is accused of using stolen identities in a scheme to defraud banks now faces federal charges. Prosecutors say 35-year-old Brian Wyer used identities of Ohio and Kansas residents to obtain two Vermont non-driver ID cards. He then allegedly used the fraudulent IDs to open bank accounts in Massachusetts withdrawing about $75,000. Wyer was indicted in Vermont in June and taken into custody by U.S. marshals in Illinois last month. During his arraignment Monday in Burlington the judge...More >>
  • Rutland vandals target parking meters

    Rutland vandals target parking meters

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 12:23 AM EDT2014-04-23 04:23:55 GMT
    Police say vandals in Rutland targeted several parking meters in a quest for quick cash. 11 meter locks and 12 meter cans filled with change were damaged along Merchants Row, Center Street, Court Street, Cottage Street and Justice Square parking lot. One meter pole and its vault was also destroyed. Police put damage in excess of thousand bucks. Anyone with information is asked to call Rutland City police.More >>
    Police say vandals in Rutland targeted several parking meters in a quest for quick cash. 11 meter locks and 12 meter cans filled with change were damaged along Merchants Row, Center Street, Court Street, Cottage Street and Justice Square parking lot. One meter pole and its vault was also destroyed. Police put damage in excess of thousand bucks. Anyone with information is asked to call Rutland City police.More >>
  • Vt. principal who faced criminal charges wants clearer mandatory reporting law

    Vt. principal who faced criminal charges wants clearer mandatory reporting law

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 6:53 PM EDT2014-04-22 22:53:40 GMT
    A law designed to protect kids landed a Vermont school principal in hot water. Now, Danville High School Principal Noah Noyes wants lawmakers to put the state's mandatory reporting rules under the microscope.More >>
    A law designed to protect kids landed a Vermont school principal in hot water. Now, Danville High School Principal Noah Noyes wants lawmakers to put the state's mandatory reporting rules under the microscope.More >>
  • Embezzlement case prompts changes from Vt. officials

    Embezzlement case prompts changes from Vt. officials

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 7:39 PM EDT2014-04-22 23:39:01 GMT
    The case of a Vermont worker charged with embezzling taxpayer money is prompting changes in the state's system.More >>
    The case of a Vermont worker charged with embezzling taxpayer money is prompting changes in the state's system.More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WCAX. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.