Line worker exposure to the most severe weather elements will be reduced with Champion Member Green Mountain Power's new Zero Outages Initiative – all while making sure Vermonters stay powered up. (Image courtesy of Green Mountain Power)

VBSR Member News Round Up – 10/11

Green Mountain Power: Champion Member Green Mountain Power (GMP) launched its Zero Outages Initiative yesterday, the first utility in the country to commit to a comprehensive, data-driven plan that creates layers of resiliency across Vermont by building on GMP’s successful and proactive undergrounding and storm-hardening of lines, as well as deployment of energy storage through batteries and microgrids. Combined, this work will keep customers and communities connected while lowering costs for all. The phased initiative rapidly accelerates this resiliency work through 2030, tackling the hardest hit areas in rural central and southern Vermont first, following a devastating year for the state that saw an unprecedented string of damaging storms due to climate change. Learn more here.

Vermont Electric Cooperative and Green Mountain Power: Utilities in Los Angeles, Austin and Vermont have aggressive plans to reach 90% or more carbon-free power by 2030. The Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA – a national nonprofit organization that envisions a carbon-free energy system that is safe, affordable, reliable, resilient and equitable) hopes that the leading strategies of these innovators “get there” and will influence other utilities to accelerate their own clean energy commitments. VBSR members – the Vermont Electric Cooperative and Green Mountain Power (Champion Member) – are at the forefront of these strategies in Vermont. Learn more here.

Mascoma Bank: Mascoma Community Development (MCD), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Gold Member Mascoma Bank, recently announced an award of $50 million in New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) authority from the U.S. Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Fund. The NMTC program allows MCD to direct capital toward underserved communities through financing high-impact, mission-focused projects nationwide with a primary focus on New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, New York, and Massachusetts. Learn more here.

Champlain Housing Trust: Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott recently donated $20 million to the Burlington-based Champlain Housing Trust — the largest gift in the nonprofit’s 40-year history. The massive donation, made through Scott’s Yield Giving fund, will be used to provide housing and strengthen community in northwestern Vermont. Some of the specific initiatives likely to benefit are the housing trust’s homeownership equity program, which supports BIPOC home ownership; the shared equity program, which helps buyers with down payments and mortgage payments; and the ongoing development of affordable housing projects. Learn more here.

Beta Technologies: Beta Technologies recently completed the first flight of a fully-electric aircraft into Montréal. The 30-minute flight began at Beta’s flight test center at Plattsburgh International Airport (KPBG) in New York, and covered 55 nautical miles. Learn more here. Beta also officially opened a large-scale manufacturing plant for its Alia all-electric aircraft last week in a ceremony held in the facility located off Williston Road at Patrick Leahy Burlington International Airport. The factory will be capable of producing up to 300 aircraft per year by 2027, and marks a significant milestone for Beta, one of the fastest-growing companies ever launched in Vermont. Learn more here.

Vermont Community Foundation and Vermont Arts Council: Members of the Better Places Roadshow recently visited Guilford and Brattleboro to celebrate local projects that benefited from state grants. Better Places is a non-competitive, community matching grant program that encourages communities to create “inclusive and vibrant public spaces serving downtowns, village centers, or neighborhood development areas.” Roadshow visitors included representatives of the Vermont Community Foundation and the Vermont Arts Council. In Guilford, they visited the site of the new Guilford Community Park in the village of Algiers, and in Brattleboro they visited High Street to get a look at a mural on a town-owned retaining wall. Learn more here.

Burton: The state of Vermont, dozens of snowboard enthusiasts and local history buffs recently dedicated a site in honor of one of the most iconic brands in the sport, Gold Member Burton, which played a key role in its rise from a curious hobby to an Olympic event. Signage now commemorates the birthplace of Burton Snowboards down the road from where the company was born more than 40 years ago. The sign states that “from its humble beginnings in Londonderry, snowboarding grew from a backyard hobby to one of the world’s most popular winter sports.” The Vermont Division for Historic Preservation participated in the event to recognize the creation of the first Burton snowboards. Learn more here.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Vermont: To meet the increasing need for mental health and substance use disorder providers, Gold Member Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont has announced a new partnership with Valera Health. A leader in virtual mental health care, Valera Health offers therapy and psychiatry services for adults, adolescents, and children ages 6 and older. Learn more here.

University of Vermont: The George D. Aiken Center, home of the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont (Gold Member), has officially become a net zero energy building. The Aiken Center now produces as much or more energy than it uses on an annual basis. The achievement of net zero energy is the result of student leadership and great partnerships, both on and beyond campus. Learn more here.