Letters to the Editor
Health Service seeks support
To the Editor:
For over 70 years, Manchester Health Services has provided home care and health services by physician referral to the local community. The services span a lifetime, including maternal and child health, adult home care and rehabilitation, long term care,and hospice/palliative care. since the beginning of the organization, our goal has been to provide services regardless of ability to pay, by means of a community supported agency, governed by a local, voluntary board of directors.
The mission of the organization is to restore and promote health by providing comprehensive home care and out-patient rehabilitation services.
For the past five years, MHS has been named a top agency by HomeCare Elite, which recognizes top-performing Medicare-certified home health agencies in the U.S. We are a four-star rated agency by Medicare, and score above both state and national averages.
However, not all of our services are reimbursed by Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance. We rely on the generosity of private individuals and businesses for financial support. Without such assistance, we would not be able to provide comprehensive care to those in need.
Please support our annual fund fdrive by making a financial donation. every donation makes a difference, regardless of size.
Foster Care Month in Vermont
To the Editor:
May is Foster Care Month, a time to celebrate the hundreds of foster and kinship foster families in Vermont who provide safe, nurturing homes for children while they can't be at home. It is with deep appreciation that the Family Services Division of the Department for Children and Families thanks them for their generosity, caring, and willingness to "answer the call," no matter when it comes.
Thank you for all you do to keep children safe, support parents, and help families stay connected! By opening your hearts and homes to children in need, you help us keep local kids local. Without you, children would have to live outside of their communities and away from their schools and all that's familiar.
We'd also like to take this opportunity to raise awareness of the need for more foster families. Bennington County has an urgent need for families willing and able to care for infants and toddlers, children with special needs, sibling groups and teens. They must also be willing to fully support ongoing visits with the birthparents.
We also need folks who can provide respite care, which is much like foster care but for shorter periods of time. Respite provides foster parents with breaks so they can get things done, relax, and re-energize.
Valerie Miner, Resource Coordinator
Bennington DCF, Family Services
Thanks for the support
To the Editor:
To the Voters of Bennington County:
It is with heartfelt appreciation that the members of the Board of Directors and the staff of the Southwestern Vermont Council on Aging thank you for your continued funding of our work serving elders and their caretakers. Thanks to your financial assistance, we are able to provide such services as Meals on Wheels, transportation, counseling, and caregiver assistance to all seniors with the goal of helping them maintain maximum independence.
Last year over 200,000 meals were served to nearly 3,000 people in our region, and of those, over 142,000 meals were home delivered to 936 citizens living in one of the 40 towns in our service area. While Meals on Wheels might be one of the better known services, our staff also helps individuals access many services and benefits including transportation and assistance with financial matters.
Your votes of support are just one more indication of the generosity and compassion of the citizens of Bennington County for which we are very thankful.
Should you or someone you know benefit from any of our programs, please contact us at 1-800-642-5119 or at www.svcoa.org .
President of the Board of Directors, Southwestern Vermont Council on Aging
Executive Director of the Southwestern Vermont Council on Aging
Heather L. Baker
Southwestern Vermont Council on Aging
Legislature must act
To the Editor:
Recently the Vermont Senate voted against protecting Vermonters who live near industrial wind turbines. The Senate voted against requiring sound monitoring to ensure compliance with noise pollution standards. Green Mountain Power's lobbyist Todd Bailey of KSE Partners told Senators that GMP could not afford to pay an unsubstantiated cost of $264,000 for sound monitoring for its industrial wind project in Lowell. As reported in Seven Days "they (the army of energy lobbyist) got their message to Senator Bray and other Senators in a hurry. The Senate voted 18-8 to strike sound monitoring from the bill."
It is enlightening to understand GMP's opposition to the cost of sound monitoring at industrial wind projects in comparison to other costs at GMP. For instance, sound monitoring annual costs, estimated by ethical experts to be $50,000 to $75,000, pale in comparison to the annual compensation for GMP CEO Mary Powell.
According to the Valener Energy Company Management Proxy Circular, included with the March 22, 2016 stockholders' meeting notice, total annual compensation to GMP CEO Mary Powell for the fiscal year ending September 2015 was $1.9 million. Her total compensation for 2013, 2104 and 2015 was over $5 million. Her total compensation consists of base salary, annual and long term incentive plan (bonus pay), current pension value and other compensation. Her current retirement benefit is $3.3 million.
Gaz Metro owns GMP and has determined that CEO Mary Powell's long term incentive compensation will be based on a program that " takes into account cash flow, asset base growth, and achievement of Merger savings."
"Asset base growth" occurs whenever GMP completes a new energy project. Utilities make money by earning a return on the equity portion of their assets, called asset base in the proxy report or more commonly, "rate base." Rate base increases whenever a utility builds anything. Intermittent (renewable) generation assets such as wind and solar projects are extremely capital intensive. It makes sense that GMP's parent corporation would want to increase asset base, because it increases corporate income. The more projects GMP builds, the more money CEO Mary Powell makes.
The problem is, these industrial wind projects are located close to Vermont families who feel their negative impacts. People who live near an industrial wind project according to the Vermont Public Service Department will experience "a significant impairment of quality of life" who unlike the CEO of GMP will not be compensated by a higher bonus in their paycheck. Instead Vermonters who live near industrial wind projects will see their quality of life deteriorate and their home values decrease. I have met with Vermonters who have abandoned their homes, are sleep deprived, get headaches, have been hospitalized, are awakened in the middle of the night with heart racing having a panic attack, get dizzy and nauseous, have sold homes at a loss, all because of the impact of unregulated industrial wind turbine noise pollution.
The GMP financial incentive to increase rate base resulted in a provision added to the proposed 30 Megawatt Deerfield Wind power purchase agreement. GMP negotiated the power contract with Iberdrola, the entity that would develop and own the wind power project on US Forest Service land that is poised to destroy critical bear habitat and the high elevation headwaters of Wilmington. It is no wonder that this agreement includes a provision that allows GMP to buy the project for $50 million in 10 years. After GMP's long and ugly battle to build its Lowell industrial wind project, it may have found a new way to own wind projects without all the problems of building them. It contracts with a developer to build wind projects and buys the projects later, which adds assets and increases compensation for Mary Powell, CEO. Neighbors get the noise pollution and significantly impaired quality of life.
The opposition to continuous sound monitoring at Vermont industrial wind projects is also not consistent with established utility practice. The McNeil wood chip generating plant, part of which is owned by GMP, is required to maintain a Continuous Emissions Monitoring System (CEMS). The CEMS equipment provides hourly data. The McNeil plant is smaller than the Lowell industrial wind project. Despite the wind industry's well funded denials to the contrary, it has been proven that industrial wind projects emit harmful sound emissions.
Sound generated by a wind turbine is directly related to its power output. More power output equals more sound. The real cost of continuous monitoring to the wind companies is that they would have to shut down when they are out of compliance, which would mean that the developer would make less money.
The legislature must act to require third party continuous sound monitoring to ensure compliance for all industrial wind projects. Legislators, please put people over profits.
No apologies for compensation
To the Editor:
A recent opinion editorial by longtime wind and solar opponent Annette Smith attempts to connect my salary — using incorrect data — to the need for greater sound monitoring of wind projects. Seriously. Sadly, Smith tries to shame me personally in an effort to increase support for her cause.
As a woman chief executive, I will not apologize for what I earn.
At Green Mountain Power, we employ over 550 Vermonters and serve about 75 percent of the state with cost-effective, highly reliable, and low-carbon energy. We are transforming how Vermonters will power their homes with leading technology and new products, while driving costs lower year after year. There has never been a more exciting time in the energy industry.
Being part of Vermont's energy revolution is my dream job, but it has been a long and challenging career climb. Here in Vermont, there are very few big employers and even fewer women CEOs. In an industry long dominated by men, there have been no easy paths to the top job. My story is the story of every woman in business: work harder, work smarter, and never let the old boys' club grind you down.
My base compensation during the year of GMP's merger with CVPS was less than my male predecessors at both companies, both managing smaller organizations. And in neighboring New Hampshire, a much smaller utility than GMP, measured by both employees and size of service territory, has a male CEO who received more than double my 2014 salary.
According to the White House, women working fulltime jobs in America earn about 79 percent of what their male counterpart working fulltime earned. Put another way, women would have to work approximately 60 extra workdays—or three months—to earn the same income as a man.
This is not acceptable. No matter your title, women at all levels should receive compensation equal to their male colleagues doing the same job. We need equity and fair treatment in the workplace and it should start now.
As a woman leader, I've attended countless conferences and meetings to talk about gender equality and equal pay, and have learned the issues are incredibly complex. How do we help women overcome barriers to professional development, such as self-esteem and support for working mothers? How do we root out our inherent sexism?
We start by being more aware. When we see a colleague struggling to step up and realize their full potential, reach out. Offer to mentor, formally or informally, to encourage professional growth, and speak out against bias against women in the workplace the minute you see it. Do not accept decisions from managers that are premised in bias of any kind. And for women in particular, you must be forceful—or "aggressive" as we are often labeled—in your negotiations and never settle for less than what you are worth.
If Annette Smith would like to have a conversation with me about fair compensation for women, I'm happy to engage, but let's not pretend it has anything to do with sound monitoring for energy projects. Smith's attempt to shame me for the professional success I've achieved is a step backward in the fight for equality in the workplace. Women everywhere deserve better.
President and CEO, Green Mountain Power
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