Are we really meeting the global threat of climate change?

President Obama’s Aug 29, 2015 Weekly Address

In this week’s address, the President spoke about his upcoming trip to Alaska, during which he will view the effects of climate change firsthand. Alaskans are already living with the impact of climate change, with glaciers melting faster, and temperatures projected to rise between six and twelve degrees by the end of the century.

In fact, Alaska’s governor recently told me that four villages are in ‘imminent danger’ and have to be relocated,” he said, citing Gov. Bill Walker (I). “Already, rising sea levels are beginning to swallow one island community.”

“Think about that,” Obama added. “If another country threatened to wipe out an American town, we’d do everything in our power to protect ourselves. Climate change poses the same threat, right now.”



America’s Clean Power Plan

Watch the President deliver remarks live

On Monday, August 3, 2015, President Obama is announcing the finalization of America’s Clean Power Plan, the biggest step he’s taken to combat climate change. The plan sets the first-ever carbon pollution standards for power plants, while providing states and utilities with the flexibility they need to meet those standards.

I’d love to get your reaction in the comment section below!

Find out how the Clean Power Plan will impact your state:

Alabama                      Arizona                      Arkansas

California                     Colorado                   Connecticut

Delaware                     Florida                       Georgia

Idaho                           Illinois                         Indiana

Iowa                            Kansas                       Kentucky

Louisiana                    Maine                         Maryland

Massachusetts           Michigan                     Minnesota

Mississippi                  Missouri                      Montana

Nebraska                    Nevada                      New Hampshire

New Jersey                 New Mexico               New York

North Carolina             North Dakota              Ohio

Oklahoma                    Oregon                      Pennsylvania

Rhode Island               South Carolina          South Dakota

Tennessee                  Texas                        Utah

Virginia                        Washington               West Virginia

Wisconsin                    Wyoming

President Obama on America’s Clean Power Plan

Green Mountain Power today issued the following statement in support of New Climate Change Regulations:

“Green Mountain Power, Vermont’s Energy Company of the Future, supports the new climate change regulations.  This aligns with GMP’s mission to deliver low-cost, low-carbon, and highly reliable power, which is critical to our energy future. And it also aligns with our shared Vermont goal to reduce carbon emissions and use more clean energy. In Vermont, the frequency and severity of storms caused by a changing climate have a high cost, and a practical plan for reducing carbon emissions is a key part of lowering costs for customers and increasing reliability.

“GMP is partnering with customers to accelerate the pace of change here in Vermont to  a more distributed energy future that is based on energy being generated closer to the home and where it is used. We are finding new ways to help Vermonters save money and be more comfortable, while moving to cleaner local sources of energy – exemplified by the deployment of substantial renewable generation in the past several years, our Energy Homes of the Future, “eHomes”, and our goal to make Rutland the Energy City of the Future. Generating energy through microgrids empowers customers to make more choices about how and when they use energy.

“While some utilities across the country are fighting innovative clean energy solutions, we are moving full steam ahead with our efforts to find new ways to bring down energy costs and generate more clean power. It is critical that we rethink the current grid and business model to more local distributed generation. We want to transform the distribution grid from a 100-year-old electric delivery model where energy is transmitted inefficiently across long distances to a new system designed to create efficiencies and distributed energy solutions through renewable technologies and energy storage. This is the future, and we are so excited to be a part of how Vermont is leading the way.”

Strafford Community Solar Ribbon Cutting

Strafford Vermont Selectman Stephen Marx, congratulated by Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, at the Strafford Community Solar Ribbon Cutting along with Kathy Hardy, wife of another Strafford Selectboard person and Dorian Yates.

Strafford Community Solar Project Goes Live

The community solar array below the Strafford Saddlery is producing power, delivering net-metering credits to the electric meters of the Town of Strafford, Newton School, Barrett Hall, the Morrill Library, and the United Church of Strafford. This ceremonial ribbon cutting and celebration today, Thursday, July 23, 2015 at 11:45 am starts with Jeff Wolfe’s introduction of Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin.

Strafford resident, Bob Bauer congratulates the town on its foresight 

Massive coal train heading East from Morrill Nebraska to supply coal-fired power plants.
Massive coal train heading East from Morrill Nebraska to supply coal-fired power plants. Photo credit, Bob Bauer.


Ironically, I found myself this past weekend in Morrill, Nebraska. It was named after Charles Henry Morrill, a cousin of Strafford Vermont’s illustrious native son, Justin Smith Morrill.

I understand the concerns of some Strafford citizens who don’t like the sight of the new solar panels, or who are concerned about what the new solar field on the reclaimed Elizabeth Mine site might look like. But the bottom line is that our energy needs to come from somewhere.

For their part, citizens in Morrill, Nebraska, need to put up with much more than just the sight of solar panels: Each day, pretty much every hour, a long train runs through town, blowing its whistle loud and frequently. It’s exclusively comprised of cars filled to the brim with coal mined in nearby Wyoming, heading East to fuel coal-burning power plants. Once burned, that coal’s smoke heads, you guessed it, East, over New England, over us, adding carbon to the atmosphere. Every hour the train heads back west for a new load.

So Bravo, Strafford, Vermont, for making a difference.”

Make-A-Wish Vermont Benefits from Solar Project

Corrections facility solar project commissioned helping support Make-A-Wish donation for local child



St. Albans, VT, July 20, 2015 – A new solar farm is powering the state’s correctional facility in St. Albans and has helped fund the wish for a local Make-A-Wish child.

The new 500kW solar project sited adjacent to the prison is part of a broader solar initiative for state facilities spearheaded by Governor Peter Shumlin, which supplies solar energy for state buildings and provides taxpayer savings from reduced electric bills at the facilities.  Previously completed solar projects include the Northeast State Correctional Facility in St. Johnsbury and Southeast State Corrections Facility in Windsor.

Corrections Commissioner Andy Pallito, Dan Edison from Buildings and General Services, and other state officials joined to celebrate the milestone.

Vermont-based AllEarth Renewables manufactured solar trackers and oversaw design/construction for the project, and SolarSense served as the developer of the project.

Through its “Watts for Wishes” charitable donation program, SolarSense is donating $6,500 to Make-A-Wish Vermont to fund a wish for local wish child.  The donation is being made in the name of the State of Vermont, as the benefactor, in recognition of its leadership in initiating the St. Albans correctional facility project.

The “Watts for Wishes” charitable donation program connects the renewable energy industry with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to provide children with life-threatening illnesses the funding to fulfill their wishes.

Make-A-Wish Vermont's Jamie Hathaway receives gift from Chris Fraga, CEO of SolarSense
Make-A-Wish Vermont’s Jamie Hathaway receives gift from Chris Fraga, CEO of SolarSense

Taylor, of Franklin County, who previously took a Make-A-Wish sponsored Disney cruise with her family, spoke at the event about the value of these wishes. The new donation will fund a future wish child.

“When a child is sick, a family is sick and when a family is sick a community is sick. This gift from SolarSense will not just give one of Vermont’s children and family hope and strength to face a life threatening illness, it will lift an entire community,” said Jamie Hathaway, CEO of Make-A-Wish Vermont.

Make-A-Wish Vermont has granted over 700 wishes to Vermont’s children facing life-threatening illnesses and no eligible child is turned away.  To learn how you can support Make-A-Wish Vermont visit

“We are thrilled to serve the State of Vermont and to be part of the State’s realization of the aggressive renewable energy initiative,” said Chris Fraga, founder and CEO of SolarSense, and a 23-year volunteer, donor, and six-year Make-A-Wish Board Member. “On a personal note, we are honored to sponsor the Watts-for-Wishes charitable giving program, and to donate the funding for a local wish in celebration of the Northwest facilities project and State sponsors.”

“We are excited to be partnering with SolarSense to provide locally-produced solar power for the State of Vermont, helping our state move forward as a national leader in renewable energy and save taxpayers money. It’s also gratifying to be involved in a project that contributes to important and meaningful community programs like this support to Vermont’s Make-A-Wish Foundation,” added David Blittersdorf, president and CEO of AllEarth Renewables.


Check out coverage of this story by Alex Apple of WCAX

WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Public Comments at Vermont Pension Investment Committee Encourage Divestment

Public Comments on Divestment

On June 23, 2015, the Vermont Pension Investment Committee met. VPIC Members present were:

  • Stephen Rauh, Chair
  • Beth Pearce, Vice-Chair, Vermont State Treasurer
  • Joseph Mackey, VSTRS Representative
  • Vaughn Altemus, Governor’s Delegate
  • Robert Hooper (by phone), VSERS Representative
  • Karen Paul (by phone), Governor’s Delegate
  • Thomas Golonka, VMERS Representative

Review the agenda and read the draft notes from the meeting.


What is the Vermont Pension Investment Committee

(from the Vermont Treasurer’s website)

The charge of the Vermont Pension Investment Committee is to combine the assets of the State Teachers’ Retirement System of Vermont, the Vermont State Employees’ Retirement System, and the Vermont Municipal Employees’ Retirement System for the purpose of investment in a manner that is more cost- and resource-efficient and will improve the effectiveness of the oversight and management of the three systems’ assets. VPIC also aims to maintain the actuarial, accounting, and asset allocation integrity of the three systems.

VPIC Mission Statement

The mission of the Vermont Pension Investment Committee (VPIC) is to make and manage investments for the Vermont State Employees’ Retirement System, Vermont State Teachers’ Retirement System, Vermont Municipal Employees’ Retirement Systems, and the other Public Retirement System, with integrity, prudence, and skill to meet or exceed the financial objectives of the beneficiaries of the funds.

Board Meetings

Committee meetings are open to the public. Interested parties are welcome to attend at any time. Meetings are held in the 4th Floor Conference Room @ 109 State Street, Montpelier.

Future Board Meeting Dates

Please refer to “Meeting Notices” below for agendas and actual dates of meetings. Click here for a 2015 calendar of all VPIC and retirement system meetings. Dates are subject to change.

  • Tuesday, January 27
  • Tuesday, February 24
  • Tuesday, March 31
  • Tuesday, April 21
  • Tuesday, May 26
  • Tuesday, June 23
  • Tuesday, July 28
  • Tuesday, August 25
  • Tuesday, September 22
  • Tuesday, October 27
  • Tuesday, November 24
  • Tuesday, December 22