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.
Thursday, April 17 2014 5:52 PM EDT2014-04-17 21:52:21 GMT
Police say two people found dead at a home in Stowe are believed to have died in a murder-suicide. Police are still not releasing their names or the cause of death, but they say the victims are adults. StoweMore >>
A Stowe couple is dead after what police say was a murder-suicide. The news came as a shock to neighbors who say they never noticed any red flags. More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 6:01 PM EDT2014-04-17 22:01:29 GMT
A man charged with shooting his neighbor and two Vermont State Police officers was in court Thursday in Middlebury. Timothy Foley did appear in court Thursday in Middlebury. He wasn't there last time,More >>
A man charged with shooting his neighbor and two Vermont State Police officers was in court Thursday in Middlebury.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 11:26 AM EDT2014-04-17 15:26:34 GMT
A 79-year-old woman accused of causing the death of a motorcyclist in Vermont last year has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of careless or negligent operation and has received a suspended sentence of six to...More >>
A 79-year-old woman accused of causing the death of a motorcyclist in Vermont last year has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of careless or negligent operation and has received a suspended sentence of six to 12 months.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 12:05 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:05:16 GMT
A teenager has been arrested for making a bomb threat in St. Albans. Police say the threat was made to Project SOAR, an alternative school, Wednesday morning. The building was searched and no bomb wasMore >>
Police say a teenager has been arrested for allegedly making a bomb threat to an alternative school in St. Albans.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 12:05 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:05:01 GMT
A missing elderly woman from Rutland has been found safe in Burlington. Police say Grace Maddaloni, 88, disappeared Wednesday after what they called a "disagreement." Because of her age and being in theMore >>
A missing elderly woman from Rutland has been found safe in Burlington.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 6:22 PM EDT2014-04-17 22:22:30 GMT
Financial problems in the Burlington School District continue to mount and now the school board is silencing the superintendent. On Wednesday the district announced it is in trouble with the InternalMore >>
Financial problems in the Burlington School District continue to mount and now the school board is silencing the superintendent.More >>
Thursday, April 17 2014 12:04 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:04:45 GMT
Darn Tough appears to be making a darn good profit. The high-end sock manufacturer out of Northfield reports the first quarter of this year was its best ever, with revenues up almost 80 percent over theMore >>
Vermont sock manufacturer Darn Tough reports the first quarter of this year was its best ever.More >>