Vermont Superior Court rules in favor of citizen access in Bennington Act 250 case

first_imgThe Environmental Division of the Vermont Superior Court today ruled decisively in favor of citizen participation in Act 250 proceedings in a case involving a proposed development in Bennington.The Vermont Natural Resources Council and a group of Bennington residents who last year had been denied a full seat at the table in the Act 250 process hailed the decision.â This ruling clarifies that Act 250 is fully open to citizens,’said Brian Shupe, VNRCâ s executive director.Shupe continued: â The ruling in favor of the rights of citizens to fully participate in decision-making in their own communities is precisely in line with the vision of Act 250â s founders, as well as Vermontâ s strong tradition of accessible government,’he said. â This is good news.âMeg Campbell, a representative of the citizens group, said she also was pleased with the decision.â As a group, we had information and a viewpoint to bring to the table. Being denied party status in the case effectively shut us out and, as a result, the review of the project was compromised.”VNRC represented a group of Bennington residents who were concerned about the impacts of a proposed expansion of a Wal-Mart in Bennington.  Their concerns included impacts on water quality, potential harm to the economic viability of downtown businesses, and traffic congestion.Last fall, the District Commission in Bennington had denied the Citizens for a Greater Bennington and VNRC full party status in the case. In October, the citizens group and VNRC appealed the ruling to the Environmental Division of the Superior Court. VNRC 4.26.2012last_img read more

Vermont tops nation in health insurance rebates

first_imgMore than 4,600 Vermonters are due an average $807 rebate on their health insurance premiums by tomorrow under a provision in the new national health care law, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) said today. The Vermont average rebate is greater than any other state. In all, 4,636 Vermont policy holders ‘all covered by CIGNA ‘are due more than $2.3 million in rebates under the Affordable Care Act, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The new health care law requires most insurers, beginning this year, to give annual rebates by Aug. 1 if less than 80 percent of the premium dollars they collect go toward medical care. The threshold is 85 percent for insurers covering large employers, companies with more than 50 workers. That’s the category that includes all of the Vermont rebates. ‘Two of the reform goals of the Affordable Care Act are to direct health care dollars to preventing illness and delivering health care, instead of to marketing and excessive administrative spending.  This is another step toward improving quality, affordability and accountability for Vermonters and all Americans,’Leahy said. ‘One of the reasons that health care costs in the United States are so much higher than the rest of the world is that insurance companies spend too much on administration and profiteering. What we’re trying to do is get health care dollars into health care,’Sanders said. ‘This is a good step in that direction.’ ‘It’s just common sense that insurance premiums should cover health care expenses for people who get sick,’Welch said. In Vermont, CIGNA is the only health insurer that failed to meet the law’s thresholds and owes rebates, according to federal records. No rebates were owed by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont, the major health insurer in the state, or by other Vermont health insurers.  Nationwide, insurers must give back $1.1 billion to 12.8 million Americans this year. The average rebate is $151 per household. Most people get health insurance through their employers, so most of the rebates are being sent to companies. They may distribute the money to workers or use the funds to keep down future premium costs.Source: Congressional delegation. WASHINGTON, July 31, 2012last_img read more

Merchants Bank ranks 10th in US ‘best performers’

first_imgCommunity Bank NA,Merchants Bank (NASDAQ: MBVT) ranked number 10 in American Banker Magazine’s list of “best performers” published in the May 2013 issue, and was the second highest ranked bank in the New England area. Based upon data from SNL Financial, American Banker posted the top performing 200 financial institutions from a peer group of 851 banks across the country.”Merchants Bank is in a great position to serve our customers; large enough to be financially sound and offer sophisticated banking technology, while remaining focused on our local commitment to community,” stated Mike Tuttle, President and CEO of Merchants Bank. “Every employee at Merchants Bank feels great pride in knowing we are one of the finest banks in America.”SNL Financial ranked banks with less than $2 billion in total assets as of Dec. 31, 2012, based upon data from GAAP and/or regulatory filings. The best performers are based on their average return on equity over the past three years.Established in 1849, Merchants Bank is the largest Vermont-based bank, independent and locally operated. Consumer, business, municipal and investment customers enjoy personalized relationships, sophisticated online and mobile banking options, more than 30 community bank locations statewide, plus a nationwide network of over 55,000 surcharge-free Allpoint ATMs.  SOUTH BURLINGTON, VT–(Marketwired – May 06, 2013) – Merchants Banklast_img read more

Porter to collaborate with other Vermont hospitals to improve care coordination

first_imgPorter Medical Center, Inc,Porter Hospital in Middlebury has recently agreed to join with all other Vermont hospitals, as well as Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, in the newly formed OneCare Vermont Accountable Care Organization (ACO).An ACO is a group of health care providers who have agreed to share responsibility for the quality of a specific group of patients with the goal of improving their overall health; and is part of the ongoing commitment by Vermont hospitals and providers to enhance quality of patient care and improve communication and coordination of care, according to PMC spokesperson Ron Hallman.The essential work of this ACO network will revolve around the sharing of information via a state-wide computerized health information exchange/electronic health record system, which will collect and report information to all ACO members on 33 specific quality health indicators established by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  Through this tracking and sharing of clinical information, the goals are to provide better and more coordinated patient care services for individual patients; especially those suffering from chronic health conditions such as Diabetes, High Blood Pressure and other conditions that require ongoing monitoring and care and, eventually, to improve the overall health status of entire communities. The OneCare Vermont ACO has been in existence since January of 2013 and now includes all 14 Vermont hospitals, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, two Federally Qualified Health Centers, five Rural Health Clinics, 58 private medical practices, 280 individual primary care physicians and 1,800 specialist physicians. The focus of the OneCare Vermont ACO is to better coordinate the health care of approximately 42,000 of Vermonts 118,000 Medicare beneficiaries.  Coordinated care helps ensure that patients, especially those with chronic conditions, get the right care, at the right time and in the right place, according to PMC President, James L. Daily. OneCare Vermont represents an opportunity to develop the clinical relationships that will enable all member health care organizations to be successful in the emerging accountable care environment.Any patient who has multiple doctors probably understands the frustration of duplicated medical procedures or having to share the same information over and over again with different providers, Daily said.  ACOs are designed to help lift this burden from patients, while improving the partnership between patients and providers and allowing patients to have better information and control over their health care.Accountable Care Organizations were created by the Affordable Care Act in 2010 and are intended to create incentives for health care providers to better collaborate, communicate and work together to treat an individual patient across different settingsincluding physicians offices, hospitals and long-term care facilities. As a member of the OneCare Vermont ACO, Porter will have representation on the Clinical Advisory Board by members of our local medical community.Improving coordination and communication among providers will help enhance the care of our Medicare patients, while also taking steps to begin to reduce costs, Daily said. According to a recent analysis by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ACOs could potentially save the Medicare program as much as $960 million over three years.Although our collaboration in this new agreement is focused primarily on sharing information via electronic health records to improve quality and care coordination throughout Vermont, it is important for our Addison County patients to know that this arrangement in no way changes their Medicare benefits or their relationships with their providers or our hospital, Daily said.  From the perspective of the patient, this arrangement will not in any way affect their access to their provider, but will, over time, improve their overall patient experience, he said.Porter Hospital continues to be governed by our local board of directors and we remain independent from a financial and governance perspectivebut through this arrangement, we are taking a step toward the type of health care reform initiative that is both good and necessary to improve care and reduce costs over time, Daily said.last_img read more

Entergy to close, decommission Vermont Yankee beginning in 2014

first_imgNorthstar Vermont Yankee,Entergy Corporation on August 27 announced it plans to close and decommission its Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station in Vernon. The station is expected to cease power production after its current fuel cycle and move to safe shutdown in the fourth quarter of 2014. The station will remain under the oversight of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission throughout the decommissioning process.Entergy had been fighting the state of Vermont on several legal fronts and even though the New Orleans company was able to win those battles, it could not overcome the greater economics of current energy supply and demand. The new fight between Entergy and the state might be over when the site is fully decommissioned and the site remediated. Federal law allows the operator to put the plant into SAFSTOR, or mothballed, up to 60 years before the plant is fully dismantled. Against the view of some analysts, Entergy decided to refuel the plant earlier this year. That was its 30th refueling since the plant went online in 1972 and now its last. Vermont Yankee employs about 650 workers, about a third of whom live in Vermont. Not all of those jobs will immediately go away once the reactor goes off line. The decommissioning process will require significant labor and ongoing monitoring.”They’ve made the right decision,” Governor Peter Shumlin said on VPR’s Vermont Edition shortly after the decision was made public. “They’ve made the right decision for Vermont. They’ve made the right decision for Entergy.””This is huge for Windham County,” Patricia Moulton Powden of the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation told Vermont Business Magazine. “We can’t say this is a surprise. We knew this day was coming. We just didn’t think it would come so soon. We were hoping we had two or three more years. Our first concern is the 630-plus employees there.”Powden said the economy of the region, which has been struggling, will suffer not only from the loss of jobs, which will not come right away but eventually, but also from the contributions to the community made by those employees and by Vermont Yankee itself. She said the average wage was over $100,000 and the total payroll is about $66 million.”This was an agonizing decision and an extremely tough call for us,” said Leo Denault, Entergy’s chairman and chief executive officer. “Vermont Yankee has an immensely talented, dedicated and loyal workforce, and a solid base of support among many in the community. We recognize that closing the plant on this schedule was not the outcome they had hoped for, but we have reluctantly concluded that it is the appropriate action for us to take under the circumstances.” Entergy said in a statement that the decision to close Vermont Yankee in 2014 was based on a number of financial factors, including:– A natural gas market that has undergone a transformational shift in supply due to the impacts of shale gas, resulting in sustained low natural gas prices and wholesale energy prices.– A high cost structure for this single unit plant. Since 2002, the company has invested more than $400 million in the safe and reliable operation of the facility. In addition, the financial impact of cumulative regulation is especially challenging to a small plant in these market conditions.– Wholesale market design flaws that continue to result in artificially low energy and capacity prices in the region, and do not provide adequate compensation to merchant nuclear plants for the fuel diversity benefits they provide.Julien Dumoulin-Smith of UBS Securities LLC said last January in a report that, “We believe both its New York Fitzpatrick and Vermont Yankee plants are at risk of retirement given their small size.” He questioned whether operating such plants at a loss made sense. UBS has said that Vermont Yankee is the most ‘tenuously positioned plant.’Doumoulin-Smith suggested that Entergy might not refuel in 2013 and instead close the plant right away. Shortly thereafter, however, Vermont Business Magazine reported that Entergy would indeed refuel the Vernon reactor, which would keep it going until the fall of 2014.Dumoulin-Smith told VBM last February that he wouldn’t speculate on why Entergy decided to refuel Yankee, but said, ‘It’s clear that management has committed to operate the plant at a cash negative.’Vermont Yankee is the smallest unit in the Entergy fleet, with a 605 megawatt output. Nuclear electric generation is losing ground to cheaper natural gas-fired plants, which also come with fewer regulatory requirements.Dumoulin-Smith sent VBM his assessment of Entergy’s decision to close the plant. He suggests that the State of Vermont might challenge the SAFSTOR process. He also, as he did earlier this year, suggests that Entergy and other operators will continue to shutter their smaller nuclear plants across the country. He also reiterates UBS’s “sell” status for Entergy shares (ETR) with a target prices of $63, which is what it is trading at as of August 27, near its 52-week low ($61.09 – $72.98).Dumoulin-Smith Analysis: “Plan to close VY in 4Q14 is modestly accretive, saves $150-200M thru ‘17 Mgmt announced today they intend to SAFSTOR the plant at the end of its current fuel cycle in 4Q14. ETR cited the high cost structure of the small single unit plant; incl. maint capex, we estimate the all-in cost was ~$50/MWh. ETR will recognize a $181M after-tax impairment in 3Q and $55-60M in severance and employee costs through the end of the year in conjunction with the decision to retire.Break-even EPS in ‘13 and declining in future yearsToday’s press release highlighted that VY will have a roughly break-even EPS contribution this year, declining in future years. Mgmt expects the decision to be ‘modestly accretive’ within two years after shutdown (cont. ops into 4Q14) and to ultimately improve cash flow $150-200M in total through 2017, roughly inline w/ our plant estimates. We note the discrepancy between EPS/EBITDA and FCF metrics due to large (~$50/kW-yr or more) maintenance capex requirements.Decommissioning trust of $582M meets NRC minimum of $566M  Excluding the $40M parent guarantee, the NDT exceeds the NRC decom. min. However, now that the plant will retire, ETR will conduct a full funding study to true-up to actual (likely higher) estimated decom. costs; whether VT will allow SAFSTOR and the associated 60 years to accrue the funds is also a key question.Valuation: Sell and $63 PT unchanged; more nuke retirements to come?Our PT remains SOP-derived. We continue to expect more small single-unit nuke retirements at ETR and across the industry; at ETR, while this decision is accretive it highlights just how economically challenged ETR’s merchant nuclear fleet is. Vermont Yankee economics are clearly challengedWe include below our Vermont Yankee financial estimates; our estimates are roughly inline with management’s commentary around declining EPS after breakeven in ‘13 as well as roughly $150-200Mn in FCF deficits from ‘15 ‘ ‘17.”Table 1: Vermont Yankee Earnings and Free Cash Flow EstimatesSource: Company reports, UBS estimatesEntergy stated August 27 that making the decision now and operating through the fourth quarter of 2014 allows time to duly and properly plan for a safe and orderly shutdown and prepare filings with the NRC regarding shutdown and decommissioning. Entergy said it will establish a decommissioning planning organization responsible for planning and executing the safe and efficient decommissioning of the facility. Once the plant is shut down, workers will de-fuel the reactor and place the plant into SAFSTOR, a process whereby a nuclear facility is placed and maintained in a condition that allows it to be safely secured, monitored and stored.”We are committed to the safe and reliable operation of Vermont Yankee until shutdown, followed by a safe, orderly and environmentally responsible decommissioning process,” Denault said.The decision to SAFSTOR the plant, instead of a full decommission, will likely generate a fight from the Vermont side.”That would not be our first choice, by a long shot,” Pat Moulton Powden said. “There will be fewer jobs with SAFSTOR than with a full decommission and returning the site to a green field.” Governor Shumlin said he will be working with Entergy, the NRC, and Vermont’s congressional delegation “to return it to a green field as soon as possible so we can use it for other economic development opportunities in Windham County.” Another concern is the decommissioning fund itself. While Energy states that the funds are available, its ultimate cost will likely be higher and the question then becomes, who pays for it.Shumlin said: “Vermonters should not be paying for the decommissioning of Vermont Yankee. That was the promise that was made when it was built… I’m going to work to ensure that the promise is delivered upon.”Governor Shumlin also issued the following statement:‘This is the right decision for Vermont as we move to a greener energy future. Entergy’s announcement today confirms what we have known for some time. Operating and maintaining this aging nuclear facility is too expensive in today’s world. Vermont utilities no longer have contracts with Vermont Yankee, and our regional grid is not reliant upon it for stability. Vermont has made clear its desire to move toward more sustainable, renewable sources of electricity, and many of our surrounding states are doing likewise.   “Vermont Yankee was built with an expectation that it would operate for a limited period of years. While it is no secret that Vermont and Entergy have disagreed on how long that should be, it is now clear that Vermont Yankee is a part of the energy past, and will not be a part of our energy future.   “I spoke with Entergy Chairman and CEO Leo Denault today and we agreed to move beyond our past disputes and work cooperatively toward a timely shutdown and a smooth transition for VY workers and the surrounding communities in Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. I grew up in Windham County and I know that the closure of this plant will be a significant upheaval for the region, and for the state as a whole. We have been preparing for this day through education and economic development efforts in the region, and we will redouble our efforts now that the closure date for the plant is certain. “For the workers at Vermont Yankee, who will directly feel the pain of job loss, I pledge the resources of my administration to move quickly to provide the training and services they will need. I will work closely with the legislature, our federal delegation, the local towns and business organizations, and my fellow governors in Massachusetts and New Hampshire to support the Vermont Yankee workforce and the affected communities. We will also focus on the timely decommissioning of the plant to return the site to a greenfield capable of other productive economic uses as swiftly as possible.’Many other Vermonters weighed in on the closure:Senator Patrick Leahy:‘Safe decommissioning of Vermont Yankee is an issue of enormous and overarching importance for Vermont.  Every precaution must be taken to insure public and worker safety during the decommissioning, and to insure that we do not leave a public safety nightmare for future generations of Vermonters.’ Entergy has said that they intend to employ the ‘SAFSTOR’ approach, meaning they intend to mothball the plant, largely intact, for 20 or more years before cleanup is fully addressed.  In 2011 Leahy, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) wrote to the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), [LINK to letter:](link is external) expressing their deep concerns about the SAFSTOR approach as it might be applied to Vermont Yankee.  Their letter said, in part:  ‘SAFSTOR would let Entergy off the hook for clean-up, waste disposal, and remediation of the plant site in Vernon, Vermont, for years, or even decades.’   Instead, Leahy noted, moving quickly to full decommissioning and cleanup would have the added advantage of using the plant’s current highly skilled and experienced workforce, rather than trying to train a new generation of workers with the plant and its older technology decades from now.   Leahy said the NRC should now be pressed to approve a decommissioning approach which places the highest priority on safety, now and into the future, and not to sacrifice the public interest in the interest of Entergy’s bottom line.   Leahy said, ‘The full cost of this decommissioning needs to be paid by the plant owner and must not become a burden for Vermont or for the federal government.’ Mary Powell, president and CEO of Green Mountain Power: ‘Entergy’s decision to close the plant for financial reasons will not affect GMP customers. We have not purchased electricity from Vermont Yankee since March 2012 and there will be no immediate or direct impact on our customers. We have been very successful meeting our goals of providing our customers with low cost, low carbon and reliable electricity and will continue to do so, whether or not VY is operating.’Senator Bernie Sanders:‘I am delighted that Entergy will shut down the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant which has had so many problems in recent years. There is a strong desire on the part of the people of the state of Vermont to close the plant that was scheduled to operate for only 40 years,’ Sanders said. ‘The closure will allow Vermont to focus on leading the nation toward safer and more economical sources of sustainable and renewable energy like solar, wind, geothermal and biomass,’ added Sanders, a member of the Senate energy and environment committees. While welcoming news of the shutdown, Sanders said the jobs of Vermont Yankee employees must be preserved while the plant is safely decommissioned. ‘Entergy must go through a decommissioning process as soon as possible, a process which will require many workers,’ Sanders said. ‘Clearly there are no people who know the Vermont Yankee plant better than those who are currently employed and they should be given top priority for those new jobs.’Jeffery Wimette, Business Manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local #300 which has 180 members working at Vermont Yankee:‘This is a tragic day for hard-working people in Vermont, and for the IBEW’s brothers and sisters at Vermont Yankee in particular. For too long, too many Vermont elected officials have been hostile to business, to private jobs, and played games with the welfare of the employees at Vermont Yankee. What became of Vermont’s moto ‘ BUY LOCAL. We just helped sell our fellow brothers and sisters down the ‘Connecticut River’.’‘It is time that we come together as a state to both immediately help out those who will be impacted by the plant’s closing and to change state policy so Vermont shows it is not only open for business, but friendly toward business. God bless the employees and the surrounding community.’Representative Peter Welch:‘My thoughts are with the employees of Vermont Yankee. This dedicated workforce has always been steadfast in their professionalism and commitment to the operation of the plant.‘The Nuclear Regulatory Commission must now take a vigilant role in ensuring that the plant is safely decommissioned and the site returned to usable status as quickly as possible. This closure provides a potential opportunity as we look for ways to advance Vermont’s energy future and to find new jobs for Vermont Yankee employees. I will work closely with the Governor and the state’s delegation to ensure the safe and swift dismantling of the plant and secure the economic vitality of the Windham County region.’Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility:”VBSR has long believed there are viable alternatives to Vermont Yankee, a facility that poses numerous environmental, safety, and financial risks for Vermont electricity users.  The operation of an aging and troubled nuclear power plant in our borders undermines Vermont’s reputation as a clean and green state. “With today’s announcement, it is clear that Vermont should continue on its path to modernize our grid to facilitate distributed energy sources and stimulate the creation of affordable, clean, and local power from our farms and forests, our rivers, our sun and wind. “We also recognize that this will be a difficult transition for the employees at Vermont Yankee and the communities surrounding the facility. VBSR hopes there are opportunities for ENVY workers to participate in the shutdown and decommissioning of the plant and that state officials are prepared to assist in job placement, training and other support for those displaced by today’s decision.”Speaker of the House Shap Smith:”Entergy’s announcement this morning that it will close and decommission Vermont Yankee in 2014 comes after several years of speculation about the long term sustainability of the plant. This closure is part of a broader national trend in which the economic viability of nuclear power is uncertain, as the country looks to develop an affordable and sustainable energy profile for the future.”In the coming months and years, the legislature will work with the Administration, Windham County leaders and others to assist employees of the plant and the surrounding communities during this transition period.  Entergy repeatedly has assured Vermonters that it will decommission the plant in a safe and environmentally sound way. I will work to ensure that this commitment is fully met.”Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott:”Today’s announcement from Entergy Nuclear that they plan to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in 2014 is a devastating blow to the plant’s 600-plus employees, their families and the Windham County economy.”High-paying jobs are few and far between in Vermont; we now run the risk of seeing many highly skilled employees who work at Vermont Yankee leave our state. Job loss numbers as high as predicted in this situation are not anything a region can plan for.”The contribution Vermont Yankee employees, contractors and the plant itself make to the local economy cannot be understated; in that light, we must commit ourselves to helping Windham County fill what soon could be a gaping economic hole. I plan to work closely with the legislature and Administration to develop a strategy to help those displaced employees find work as well as producing an economic development plan for Windham County.”Vermont leaders must learn from this: It is more important than ever that we dedicate ourselves to finding ways to grow our economy, keep existing high-paying jobs in our state and also attract new ones, thus creating the foundation for a bright future for Vermonters.”Guy Page, communications director for the Vermont Energy Partnership:‘The announcement today by Entergy of the planned shutdown of Vermont Yankee next year comes as a surprise considering the legal success through the federal circuit court decision last week.‘Over the years, we have had the opportunity to get to know many of the hard-working, skilled professionals of Vermont Yankee and have witnessed their dedication to ensuring the extremely safe operation of Vermont Yankee. We have every confidence they will continue to operate the plant at the utmost levels of safety.‘The Vermont Energy Partnership intends to study the impact of this decision on Vermont’s energy future and New England’s demand for clean, baseload electricity. As always, VTEP remains committed to a future of clean, safe, affordable and reliable power. Vermont Yankee has been a valuable contributor to that policy goal, as well as supporting Windham County’s economy through hundreds of good paying jobs and millions in state and local revenue.”Brian Shupe, Executive Director, VNRC:‘Today’s announcement that Entergy will close and clean up the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant is good news for Vermont and its energy future. We hope and expect the state can help those workers displaced by this closure find new work. In the meantime, we must turn our attention to decommissioning to be sure its done properly, that Vermont taxpayers don’t foot the bill and that VY restores the land so that future generations can use and enjoy it.’ ­Commenting on the future of nuclear power, Entergy’s Denault said: “Entergy remains committed to nuclear as an important long-term component of its generating portfolio. Nuclear energy is safe, reliable, carbon-free and contributes to supply diversity and energy security as part of a balanced energy portfolio.”Financial ImplicationsEntergy plans to recognize an after-tax impairment charge of approximately $181 million in the third quarter of 2013 related to the decision to shut down the plant at the end of this current operating cycle. In addition to this initial charge, Entergy expects to recognize charges totaling approximately $55 to $60 million associated with future severance and employee retention costs through the end of next year. These charges will be classified as special items, and therefore, excluded from operational results.The company noted that the estimated operational earnings contribution from Vermont Yankee was expected to be around breakeven in 2013, and generally declining over the next few years. As a result of this decision and based on continuing operations into fourth quarter 2014, the estimated operational earnings change, excluding these special items, is expected to be modestly accretive within two years after shutdown, and cash flow is expected to increase approximately $150 to $200 million in total through 2017, compared to Vermont Yankee’s continued operation.Regarding decommissioning, assuming end of operations in fourth quarter 2014, the amount required to meet the NRC minimum for decommissioning financial assurance for license termination is $566 million. The Vermont Yankee decommissioning trust had a balance of approximately $582 million as of July 31, 2013, excluding the $40 million guarantee by Entergy Corporation to satisfy NRC requirements following the 2009 review of financial assurance levels. Filings with the NRC for planned shutdown activities will determine whether any other financial assurance may be required and will specifically address funding for spent fuel management, which will be required until the federal government takes possession of the fuel and removes it from the site, per its current obligations.Vermont Yankee, a single unit boiling water reactor, began commercial operation in 1972. Entergy acquired the plant from Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corporation in 2002. In March 2011, the NRC renewed the station’s operating license for an additional 20 years, until 2032.Additional information regarding today’s announcement is available in the Frequently Asked Questions section of is external). The FAQ is also reprinted below.Entergy Corporation, which celebrates its 100th birthday this year, is an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including more than 10,000 megawatts of nuclear power, making it one of the nation’s leading nuclear generators. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.8 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.Additional information can be accessed online at is external).SOURCE NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 27, 2013 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — Entergy CorporationFrequently Asked QuestionsWhen will Vermont Yankee close?The company anticipates shutting down the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station in fourth quarter 2014, with the exact date still to be determined.Why was this decision made?Vermont Yankee has an immensely talented, dedicated, and loyal workforce (about 630 employees) and a solid base of support in the community. We recognize that closing the plant on this schedule was certainly not the outcome they had hoped for, but we have reluctantly concluded that it is the appropriate action for us to take under the circumstances.The decision to close Vermont Yankee in 2014 was based on a number of financial factors, including:A natural gas market that has undergone a transformational shift in supply due to the impacts of shale gas, resulting in sustained low natural gas prices and wholesale energy prices.A high cost structure for this single unit plant. Since 2002, the company has invested more than $400 million in the safe and reliable operation of the plant. In addition, the financial impact of cumulative regulation is especially challenging to a small plant in these market conditions.Wholesale market design flaws that continue to result in artificially low energy and capacity prices in the region, and do not provide adequate compensation to merchant nuclear plants for the fuel diversity benefits they provide.Couldn’t Vermont Yankee be sold to another company?We are constantly evaluating our portfolio of assets and businesses to determine if it makes sense to hold and optimize, to sell, or to shut down. As a matter of policy, we cannot comment on any specific efforts, however, we did consider all options before making this decision. Closing the plant on this schedule was certainly not the option we hoped for, but we have reluctantly concluded that it is the appropriate action for us to take under the circumstances.What will happen to employees?We expect to continue operations with current staffing levels through to shut down, at which time we will transition into decommissioning. Staffing levels will change and be reduced as the plant moves through the various stages of decommissioning. The company will treat employees at the station fairly and assist them through this transition.Beyond the financial aspect, what’s the reasoning behind closing the plant?We looked at the impact of this decision through the lenses of all our stakeholders, and while extremely tough for many, we believe the decision was ultimately the right one:Owners — It is consistent with our disciplined approach of constantly evaluating our portfolio of assets and businesses to determine if it makes sense to hold and optimize, to sell, or to shut down. This shutdown decision was made because this asset is not financially viable.Employees — It provides employees the best opportunity to properly plan their future, whether at the plant, other Entergy-owned facilities or in the broader industry. We will treat our employees fairly throughout this entire process.Customers — It provides more certainty to our wholesale customers and to the broader markets in which we participate.Communities — It allows us to move forward and constructively engage with the impacted communities as we transition from an operating nuclear facility into and through the decommissioning process. We will continue to be a key part of the communities in which we do business as that moves forward.  What has to be done to decommission a nuclear plant?The decommissioning process is clearly defined by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Section 50.2 (10 CFR 50.2). The initial activities involve extensive planning to safely and efficiently decommission the station and terminate the station license. Activities include removing the plant from service, transferring used fuel to safe storage, removing any residual radioactivity and restoring the site which includes the removal of structures and, if appropriate, re-grading and reseeding the land.   How can we be assured that decommissioning will be handled properly?The safety of our operations will continue to be a top priority. In addition, the NRC will provide oversight during the decommissioning process.How long will the entire decommissioning process take?The complete decommissioning process is likely to take decades. We plan to follow the NRC-approved SAFSTOR methodology of decommissioning, where the facility is maintained and monitored in a safe condition and the decontamination and dismantling of the station occurs later. There are a number of advantages to SAFSTOR methodology, including lower potential radiation exposure for workers doing the decommissioning work and the need for fewer shipments of radioactive material to the low-level waste site.Entergy expects to decommission using the SAFSTOR method. What is SAFSTOR?SAFSTOR places and maintains a nuclear facility in a condition that allows it to be safely stored until the removal of radioactive materials and components, eventually permitting unrestricted use of the area. During SAFSTOR, the facility is left intact, with structures maintained in a sound condition. Systems that are not required to support the spent fuel pool or site surveillance and security are drained, de-energized and secured.What will happen to the Vermont Yankee site after decommissioning?Once Vermont Yankee’s license has been terminated and the NRC has released the site for unrestricted use, the area can be used in any way permissible by federal, state and local laws. Entergy retains ownership of the property on which Vermont Yankee operates. Entergy has committed eventually to restoring the site by removing structures and, if appropriate, re-grading and reseeding the land.What happens to the used fuel?The used fuel will remain secured on site, under guard, monitored during shutdown and decommissioning activities, and subject to the NRC’s oversight. Removal of the fuel from the reactor vessel to the spent fuel pool is expected to begin as soon as the reactor has cooled sufficiently, in a matter of days after shutdown. This is similar to what happens in a refueling outage. From the spent fuel pool, fuel will be moved to NRC-licensed casks. The fuel will remain onsite in dry casks until it is removed by the federal government in accordance with its legal obligations.How many U.S. nuclear power stations/units have been decommissioned?Since 1960, more than 70 test, demonstration and power reactors have been retired throughout the United States.Vermont Yankee contributes about $435,000 annually to the community through open grants, site sponsorships, annual events and other charitable giving. What will happen to that support?We will continue to be a good corporate citizen. We recognize that this is a significant event for the local economy and for surrounding communities. We will have future discussions to talk about transition plans, as it is too soon to know the specifics.How can the public be assured of radiological safety during the decommissioning process?The environmental monitoring program in place now will continue after the plant is shut down. The program will be modified to monitor the types of releases that may occur during decommissioning. Again, the NRC will provide oversight during the decommissioning process.Will the closing cause electric reliability supply issues in the state or elsewhere in the region?ISO New England will conduct a grid reliability review before Vermont Yankee’s closure. What about other Entergy plants in the region?Each of our merchant plants has unique characteristics, some operating in different market environments, some of which are more favorable than others.For example, Vermont Yankee and Indian Point are on two opposite ends of the spectrum. Vermont Yankee is a small, single-unit plant in a very challenging economic market. Indian Point is a large, two-unit station in a more favorable market. Indian Point continues to be a vital component of the region’s power supply and we are committed to its continued and safe operation.  Regarding FitzPatrick, while in a difficult market environment, we currently expect to refuel in the fall of 2014.  While Palisades’ market environment is certainly difficult, it has a power purchase agreement.Although Pilgrim’s market environment is the same as Vermont Yankee’s, Pilgrim’s higher power output provides greater economies of scale.Does Entergy have the required decommissioning funds in place?Regarding decommissioning, assuming end of operations in fourth quarter 2014, the amount required to meet the NRC minimum for decommissioning financial assurance for license termination is $566 million. The Vermont Yankee decommissioning trust had a balance of approximately $582 million as of July 31, 2013, excluding the $40 million guarantee by Entergy Corporation to satisfy NRC requirements following the 2009 review of financial assurance levels. Filings with the NRC for planned shutdown activities will determine whether any other financial assurance may be required and will specifically address funding for spent fuel management, which will be required until the federal government takes possession of the fuel and removes it from the site, per its current obligations.How does Vermont Yankee’s closing change Entergy’s viewpoint on nuclear energy?Entergy remains committed to nuclear as an important long-term component of its generating portfolio, and for meeting the nation’s energy needs. Nuclear energy’s benefits are numerous and important. Nuclear provides reliable and cost-effective power over the long term, it contributes to supply diversity and energy security as part of a balanced portfolio, and it provides almost two-thirds of America’s clean-air electricity. Nuclear is an important part of Entergy’s portfolio.Tell me more about Vermont Yankee. How many employees are there? What type of reactor does the plant have?Vermont Yankee is a boiling water reactor manufactured by General Electric. The plant uses the Connecticut River as a cooling source, with once-through cooling towers. It began commercial operation on Nov. 30, 1972, and it is currently licensed to operate through 2032. It has a maximum dependable capacity of 605 megawatts and employs approximately 630 people.Where can I get more information on decommissioning nuclear plants?The NRC maintains frequently asked questions on nuclear plant decommissioning at this site: is external)last_img read more

Champlain Oil Company’s 20th annual golf tournament raises $20,000 to fight muscular dystrophy

first_imgCITGO Petroleum Corporation and local CITGO Marketer Champlain Oil raised $20,000 for adults and children in Vermont affected by neuromuscular diseases at the 20th Annual Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) Golf Tournament.  A record 136 golfers participated in the tournament at Vermont National Country Club on July 29, 2013. Miss Vermont, Sarah Westbrook, also joined in the event.”Every year, we plan this event to bring people together and raise money for this inspirational cause,” said Roseanne Depot of Champlain Oil. “For twenty years, we have been able to provide much needed support for nearby Fletcher Allen Hospital, which organizes clinics for those who suffer from muscular dystrophy and helps promote awareness in the local community. The support of event partners and sponsors, along with the residents who come out to participate and donate each year, is a reminder that people can truly incite hope by coming together.”The proceeds will go toward the aid and well-being of families affected by neuromuscular diseases across Vermont. The CITGO-Champlain Oil golf tournament has helped provide those families with access to MDA clinics, follow-up care and support groups since 1993.”This golf tournament has been a privilege to organize during my time with Champlain Oil. I have watched the event grow into something great. It has made me so proud to see the community, Miss Vermont, and our dedicated partners like CITGO join us to reach new goals,” said Depot. “CITGO is honored to partner with Champlain Oil in this outstanding effort every year,” said Alan Flagg, general manager light oils marketing for CITGO. “We are so appreciative of Champlain Oil owners Tony and Bryan Cairns, and their relentless effort to raise money to help so many Vermont families.”Champlain Oil, a Vermont family business for more than 65 years, has grown into one of the largest, independent gasoline, diesel and kerosene distributors in Vermont and New Hampshire. For more information, go to is external). SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt., Aug. 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — CITGOlast_img read more

House passes five year Farm Bill, includes key Vermont priorities, dairy compromise approved

first_imgBy a vote of 255-161, the House of Representatives today approved a House-Senate conference report on a five year Farm Bill. The Senate is expected to begin debate on the legislation later this week or early next week. Representative Peter Welch (D-Vermont) voted for the legislation which includes several important priorities for Vermont’s agricultural sector. After House Speaker John Boehner blocked the inclusion of dairy reforms championed by Vermont’s dairy farmers and the Vermont Congressional delegation, House and Senate conferees reached an important compromise under the leadership of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), a conferee and the senior Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee.Most Democrats and Republican “Tea Party” members voted against the measure. Those Democrats felt cuts to the food stamp program were too steep while the Tea Party members believed they were not steep enough. Welch was joined by several other Democrats from rural districts. The final House vote was 251-166. The Senate is expected to pass the bill next week, where Leahy has been a major champion of it. President Obama is then expected to sign it into law.The compromise creates a dairy insurance program that will protect farmers against wild swings in feed prices that too often have driven them off their farms. It also includes steep discounts on insurance premiums for small dairy farms, including most farms in Vermont. It will help limit overproduction of milk, a trend that has resulted in a death spiral for small dairy farmers. And it empowers the U.S. Department of Agriculture to intervene in the markets if dairy prices drop too low through the purchase of dairy products which would be used by local food banks.Significant cuts in food stamps (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) were reduced from $40 billion in the House bill to $8 billion in the compromise bill. And important programs to improve rural development, conservation and forestry in Vermont were renewed.‘This bill is far from perfect but America and Vermont need a Farm Bill,’ Welch said. ‘While it falls short of all that Vermont wanted, it is a significant improvement over the status quo and will provide much needed relief to Vermont’s dairy farmers, vegetable growers, and the organics and maple syrup industries. A new insurance program will provide a strong safety net for dairy farmers. And important conservation programs that help protect land, improve water quality, and enhance stewardship of our natural resources are preserved. While it rolls back draconian cuts in nutrition assistance, the cuts in this bill will add yet another challenge to families struggling to make ends meet.’The following legislative priorities championed by Rep. Welch in the House were included in the conference report on the Farm Bill:Disaster insurance for vegetable growers: The Farm Bill includes Rep. Welch’s legislation that makes disaster insurance available to Vermont’s fruit and vegetable farmers under the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP). Currently, farmers can only purchase catastrophic coverage. Many of Vermont’s small farms were devastated when Tropical Storm Irene slammed Vermont in 2011. This provision will protect these farmers should disaster strike again.Promote local fruits and vegetables in school lunches: The bill includes Rep. Welch’s bill that would create a pilot program in Vermont to allow states to purchase local fresh fruits and vegetables for school lunches.Growing Vermont’s maple industry: The bill includes two of Rep. Welch’s bills that support Vermont’s maple industry. The first will help sugar makers install efficiency improvements to reduce fuel consumption during the sugaring process. Also included is the Maple Tapping Access Program (TAP) Act, which authorizes grants to states for the research and promotion of maple and allows states to open lands for sugar production.Supporting the growth of organic farms and food: The bill includes Rep. Welch’s legislation to exempt organic farmers from conventional research and promotion fees. It would also allow the organic farm and food industry, if they choose, to establish an organic research and promtion program ‘ commonly called a check-off.Watch Rep. Welch’s remarks on the House floor before today’s vote: Washington, DC. (January 29th, 2014) – Welch’s officelast_img read more

Delayed spring weather changes options for Vermont anglers

first_imgThe late return of spring weather and persistent ice may alter the plans of some anglers this year. While the winter weather extends opportunities for ice fishing on some water bodies, it can also delay anglers’ access to open water for the start of trout season.Trout fishing season opens on April 12 this year, but on most waters in Vermont trout fishing is restricted to casting and trolling rather than ice fishing. Anglers should take note that on rivers, streams, and lakes with seasonal closures, they may not cut a hole through the ice to go ice-fishing for trout during the open-water trout season.Lake Champlain, however, is open to year-round trout fishing and it does not matter whether the angler is ice fishing or fishing open water. Many other lakes and ponds are open to year-round fishing for species such as yellow perch and northern pike. For a list of year-round fishing spots, see the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department’s website, is external).“Late springs such as this one traditionally delay the onset of open-water fishing by a few weeks,” said Col. David LeCours, Fish & Wildlife’s head of law enforcement. “But during these years, the ice fishing on lakes such as Champlain and Memphremagog remains good as long as the ice remains stable and safe.”LeCours reminded anglers that ice shanties must have been removed by the last Sunday in March, even if the ice remains thick. Temporary fabric wind shelters that remain with the angler are permitted. He also urged anglers to check fishing regulations regarding which waters remain open to fishing year round.Anglers should proceed with caution and continuously check ice thickness and stability when walking out on ice. Ice conditions have become dangerously thin in many parts of Vermont.Source: is external) 4.1.2014last_img read more

Vermont DMV Express processes 1.5 million online registrations

first_imgThe Vermont DMV has announced that DMV Express, Vermont’s online vehicle registration service, recently eclipsed a total of 1.5 million online registration renewals since its launch in 2005. With approximately 750,000 vehicle registration renewals transacted annually through the Vermont DMV over all channels, over 30 percent are now processed through the popular online service.“DMV Express is our most popular online service, and demonstrates that Vermonters have come to expect online services as the most efficient way to do business with the state,” said Commissioner Robert Ide.Launched in 2005 by the state’s e-government partner Vermont Information Consortium(link is external)(VIC), the service allows Vermont vehicle owners to enjoy the convenience of doing business with the Vermont DMV from the comfort of their homes and businesses. Accessible online 24/7 at is external), via IVR (phone) and card swiper kiosks, DMV Express processes motor vehicle renewals at any time, day or night. With about 100,000 users in its first year, the service has grown steadily ever since, with nearly a quarter million citizens expected to use the service in 2014. The service has also securely processed over $100 million in registration payments since 2005.Additional online Web services provided by the Vermont DMV and VIC include license reinstatements at is external), online 72-hour truck permitting at is external), and Motorcycle Course Registrations ( is external)). These services were built for the DMV at no cost to Vermont taxpayers through a unique self-funded model with VIC.About Vermont Information ConsortiumLocated in Montpelier and staffed by Vermonters, Vermont Information Consortium ( is external)) is the official e-government partner for the State of Vermont. Managed through a unique public-private partnership, the Montpelier company has built and maintains over 150 interactive government services and websites on behalf of the state and is a wholly owned subsidiary of eGovernment firm NIC (NASDAQ: EGOV – News).About NICFounded in 1992, NIC (NASDAQ: EGOV) is the nation’s leading provider of official government websites(link is external), online services, and secure payment processing solutions(link is external). The company’s innovative eGovernment services(link is external) help make government more accessible to everyone through technology. The family of NIC companies provides eGovernment solutions for more than 3,500 federal, state, and local agencies in the United States. Forbes has named NIC as one of the “100 Best Small Companies in America” five times, most recently ranked at No.11 (2013), and the company has been included four times on the Barron’s 400 Index. Additional information is available at is external).Vermont DMV(link is external) DMV Express(link is external)last_img read more

Vermont Castings owner reports strong FY 2015

first_imgThree Months Ended 1/2/2016 210bps Non-GAAP Fourth Quarter – Financial Performance 37.0% Three Months Ended $31.0 4,252 Hearth products GAAP SG&A % PercentChange EPS long-term obligations 1/2/2016 140bps % of net sales Identifiable assets: Change 195.5% $0.71 414,587 $60.5 Operating profit: 47,763 $1.4 Hearth products 2.0% Receivables 206,746 Inventories General corporate 1,953 Restructuring and impairment charges 341,315 4.4% $2.5 1/3/2015 Net Income % 2.0% 1/3/2015 430bps SOURCE MUSCATINE, Iowa, Feb. 10, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — HNI Corporation. Photo: Governor Shumlin at the Randolph foundry summer 2014. -$9.4 1/3/2015 $31.0 33,092 Gross Profit % 240,053 Net sales Three Months Ended $468.6 Non-GAAP $77.1 $0.71 1/2/2016 $0.9 $2.38 371,723 8.0% % of net sales $18,861 418,698 45,199,111 — (Dollars in millions, except per share data) Income before income taxes 31,001 (Gain)/loss on sale of assets Change 43,776 (59,188) Note payable and current Net increase (decrease) in cash and cash equivalents 20.3% EPS 36.8% Cash and cash equivalents at end of period Office furniture 5.0% As reported (GAAP) $7,082 37.7% 76,792 $62,696 SG&A % Cost of products sold Restructuring and impairment charges % $596,866 1.5% -100bps 15.9% 476,954 1/3/2015 Twelve Months Ended 1/3/2015 $1,239,334 1/2/2016 Gross Profit % $22.0 $32,231 15.9% 784,200 $2,222,695 Total operating profit $2.32 6.5% Operating Profit % $4.7 160 $33.1 (Dollars in thousands) 6.4% $87,053 Twelve Months Ended 1/3/2015 $112.8 1/3/2015 EPS – diluted 29.2% 225,143 — 1,211 $14,958 General corporate Three Months Ended $226.1 847,398 As of 11,078 20.2% Operating Income % Operating income Gross Profit % 59,262 $646,661 — PercentChange $724,293 -5.3% $1,777.8 9.2% Depreciation and amortization expense: $0.9 Other assets 3.7% Operating Income 8.9% General corporate 34,144 Operating Profit % $12.6 5.4% 10.1% 341,813 7.1% $0.03 1/2/2016 Office Furniture – Financial Performance(Dollars in millions) 45,578,872 125,228 Twelve Months Ended $151.6 Deferred income taxes $78.2 $646.7 $0.16 $0.16 Interest expense $0.18 $0.2 % of net sales -40bps 3.8% $4.7 -$1.0 $136,593 Operating Income 23.4% 1/2/2016 $163.7 3,052 $120.8 Net Sales $225.1 8.5% $22.0 % of net sales $114,966 649,055 435,900 17,310 $33.1 -6.3% 25.5% (86) Selling and administrative expenses (977) Average number of common shares outstanding – basic — Twelve Months Ended $739,915 15.9% $34,144 3,883 $145.3 $0.1 $33.1 1/3/2015 $40.9 414,501 $45,891 $77.1 18.6% Restructuring and impairment charges 170bps 21,778 $2,222,695 -110bps Three Months Ended HNI CORPORATIONUnaudited Condensed Consolidated Statement of Operations $77.1 Full Year Summary CommentsConsolidated net sales increased $81.7 million or 3.7 percent to $2.3 billion.  Compared to prior year, the Vermont Castings Group acquisition increased sales $62.7 million.  On an organic basis, sales increased 0.9 percent. Non-GAAP gross margin increased 130 basis points compared to prior year driven by strong operational performance, structural cost reductions, favorable material costs and price realization, partially offset by lower volume and unfavorable product mix.Selling and administrative expenses, as a percentage of sales, were flat to the prior year.  Higher freight costs, strategic investments and acquisition impact were offset by lower incentive based compensation and cost reductions.The Corporation recorded $17.3 million of restructuring and impairment charges and transition costs.  These costs included goodwill and intangible impairment charges of $11.2 million related to a small office furniture business and $6.1 million of restructuring and transition costs in connection with previously announced closures, acquisition integration and structural realignment.  2014 included $43.1 million of restructuring and impairment charges and transition costs. 7.9% 27.8% $596.9 $31.1 — 45,202,346 1.1% — 65,030 15.3% Three Months Ended Operating Profit $2.58 -$0.01 1,438,495 1/2/2016 -0.5% Operating profit as reported (GAAP) 8.0% Restructuring charges Net income attributable to HNI Corporation 18.6% (Gain) loss on sale of assets 0 — 28.2% (Gain) loss on sale of assets % $1,739,049 (195) $33.1 Results (non-GAAP) 11,803 $28,261 11,792 157,170 88,934 Hearth Reconciliation(Dollars in millions) 24,821 Office Furniture Reconciliation(Dollars in millions) $1.37 22,937 $104,931 92 Operating Profit 418 Capital expenditures 15,959 $112.8 — GAAP Operating profit as reported (GAAP) -$0.15 EPS – diluted $64,850 45,440,653 Cash and cash equivalents at beginning of period $0.91 37.7% 51,764 Total assets 35.3% 32,231 6.9% $22,937 Gross Profit % -60bps 345 -5.9% 1/3/2015 $180.9 35.3% 1/3/2015 Operating Profit 25.1% PercentChange 6,901 $0.73 Office furniture Net income attributable to HNI Corporation common shareholders – basic 112,849 Twelve Months Ended Non-GAAP 44,285,298 Restructuring and impairment charges % Less:  Net (loss) attributable to the noncontrolling interest $42,415 Transition costs 165,772 6.9% 56.9% Operating Income $596,866 121,791 39,209 Change equity $2,304,419 Operating Income (Dollars in thousands) As of Twelve Months Ended 1/2/2016 170bps As of 200bps 5.1% Cash and cash equivalents $28,548 Accounts payable and EPS – diluted Short-term investments 1/3/2015 $173,352 1/2/2016 Net cash flows from (to) operating activities Twelve Months Ended 1/3/2015 Liabilities and Shareholders’ Equity Current liabilities Non-GAAP Interest income $33.1 35.7%    maturities of long-term debt 182,197 1/3/2015 $230.7 (12,634) (41,497) 395 Prepaid expenses and $646,661 455,559 — 35.7% 35.7% -6.0% 195.5% 438,370 -0.2% 260bps $1.35 457,333 $424,405 (66,073) 311,008center_img $11.6 185,000 76 1/2/2016 277,650 29.2% 279,310 Current assets 14,397 46,628 36,933 6,018 Deferred income taxes Three Months Ended $3.3 — Income before income taxes Total liabilities and Gross Profit 7.1% Gross profit Transition costs $38.2 Twelve Months Ended 8,336 5,477 $0.8 $1,263,925 Long-term debt Results (non-GAAP) $1,263,925 $1,239,334 Unaudited Condensed Consolidated Statement of Cash Flows 14.8% 44,324,249 1/3/2015 1/3/2015 % of net sales 1/2/2016 Restructuring and impairment charges Net cash flows from (to) investing activities: (114,966) $0.71 (112,713) Other Operating Income % 7.7% GAAP $136.6 0.0% $24.8 $9.6 Net sales: Parent Company shareholders’ Gross Profit $153.1 $852.9 $28,548 0.5% Business Segment Data 80,353 $4.9 Change 1/2/2016 $0.07 $847.4 Gross Profit 7.1% 227,963 $443.8 $468,645 1/2/2016 2.2% 40.0% Fourth quarter sales decreased $24.8 million or 5.3 percent to $443.8 million.  Sales for the quarter decreased in both our supplies-driven and contract channels.     Fourth quarter non-GAAP operating profit increased $7.8 million or 23.4 percent.  Strong operational performance, structural cost reductions, favorable material costs and price realization were partially offset by lower volume. 164,119 Goodwill 56.9% $34,144 (44,472) Office furniture 672,125 Non-GAAP gross profit increased 220 basis points; GAAP gross profit increased 240 basis pointsFiscal Year HighlightsNon-GAAP net income per share increased 31 percent to $2.58 on a sales increase of 3.7 percent; GAAP net income per share $2.32 $24.8 1/2/2016 1/2/2016 0.0% 3.8% $163.7 37.0% 150bps 78,162 77,066 7.9% 5.0% $11,131 214,755 $120.8 (Dollars in thousands, except per share data) 15.9% (19,720) (57,585) 45.0% Property and equipment – net $60.5 160bps $157,170 197,736 33,019 Office furniture Three Months Ended $11,493 $167,796 89,411 $19,318 Full Year – Financial Performance Current maturities of other (195) 193,457 Unallocated corporate expense 1,875 1/3/2015 $1,239,334 $28.3 $15,265 Income taxes 2.8% Unaudited Condensed Consolidated Balance Sheet Capital expenditures (including capitalized software): accrued expenses Twelve Months Ended (316) $38.2 $180.9 $2.32 5,415 44,158,369 1/3/2015 6,342 $0.0 37.9% $784.2 1/2/2016 43,675 0 $30,965 $483.6 Operating Income % 4.4% 8,430 $1,777,804 343.8% 153,075 -$10.7 1,457,021 GAAP Hearth products $78.2 $0.91 -14.0% 9.2% (104) 1/3/2015 3.4% 35.7% Net cash flows from (to) financing activities -7.7% Three Months Ended 1/3/2015 240bps $4.9 EPS Gross Profit (Gain)/loss on sale of assets $105,436 $2.32 — EPS 36.8% $228.0 $2,304,419 2,091 6,719 — Operating Income Operating Profit % As of 105,406 341,159 $11.8 $46,628 440bps 10.1% $0.47 Operating Profit 270bps EPS – diluted $453,754 Other long-term liabilities $2.5 9,694 92.4% -140bps (Gain) loss on sale of assets % 220bps 35.3% — Average number of common shares outstanding – diluted shareholders’ equity Transition costs Net Sales 180bps $443,791 $56,722 $0.65 $526.6 Net income 2.0% $2.58 7.5% $178.0 163,676 Operating Income $0.01 Operating Income Change $48.4 $87.1 37.9% $48.4 Vermont Business Magazine HNI Corporation (NYSE: HNI), based in Iowa, has announced sales for the fourth quarter ended January 2, 2016, of $596.9 million and net income of $32.2 million, or  $0.71 per diluted share. Non-GAAP net income per diluted share improved 40 percent from the prior year quarter to $0.91, which excludes restructuring, goodwill and intangible impairment and transition costs. The Vermont Castings Group acquisition increased sales $62.7 million. HNI acquired Vermont Castings from its Kentucky-based owner in 2014. It subsequently closed the Bethel assembly plant in 2015, while the Randolph foundry remains in operation.Fourth Quarter and Year End Summary Comments”We delivered double digit earnings growth in the fourth quarter despite a challenging economic environment.  I’m pleased with our results in 2015 and the strong profit growth we’ve delivered over the last several years of modest economic recovery.  We continue to compete well in our markets.  We remain focused on executing operational performance improvements and reducing structural costs to drive long-term shareholder value,” said Stan Askren, HNI Corporation Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer.RELATED STORY: HNI Corporation acquires Vermont CastingsFourth Quarter HighlightsNon-GAAP net income per share increased 40 percent to $0.91 on a sales decrease of 7.7 percent; GAAP net income per share $0.71 4.6% As reported (GAAP) $1.35 1.4% Operating profit (non-GAAP) % of net sales 182,341 $1.97 25.5% -$1.0 6.5% 6,978 Net Sales $5.2 Shareholders’ equity HNI Corporation Reconciliation(Dollars in millions, except per share data) -6.3% Restructuring and impairment charges $40.9 $47.8 $9.6 Operating Income 420bps $0.07 (5,596) 71.9% 39,038 Hearth products 130bps 31.0% Net Sales 1/2/2016 $0.70 $80.4 7.5% PercentChange $145.3 $1.97 7.1% $1,263,925 $33.1 61,155 HNI Corporation Reconciliation(Dollars in millions, except per share data) $1.35 Non-GAAP Financial MeasuresThis earnings release contains certain non-GAAP financial measures.  A “non-GAAP financial measure” is a numerical measure of a company’s financial performance that excludes or includes amounts different than the most directly comparable measure calculated and presented in accordance with GAAP in the statements of income, balance sheets or statements of cash flow of the company.  We have provided a reconciliation of non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measure.The non-GAAP financial measures used within this earnings release are:  gross profit, operating income, operating profit, net income per diluted share (i.e., EPS), excluding restructuring and impairment charges, transition costs and (gain)/loss on sale of assets.  Non-GAAP EPS is calculated using the Corporation’s overall effective tax rate for the period.  We present these measures because management uses this information to monitor and evaluate financial results and trends.  Management believes this information is also useful for investors.  This earnings release also contains a forward-looking estimate of non-GAAP earnings per diluted share for the first quarter and full fiscal year 2016.  We provide such non-GAAP measures to investors on a prospective basis for the same reasons we provide them to investors on a historical basis.  We are unable to provide a reconciliation of our forward-looking estimate of non-GAAP earnings per diluted share to a forward-looking estimate of GAAP earnings per diluted share because certain information needed to make a reasonable forward-looking estimate of GAAP earnings per diluted share for the first quarter and full fiscal year is difficult to predict and estimate and is often dependent on future events which may be uncertain or outside of our control.  These may include unanticipated charges related to asset impairments (fixed assets, intangibles or goodwill), unanticipated acquisition related costs and other unanticipated non-recurring items not reflective of ongoing operations. Net Income % 1,505 $87.1 Assets $0.16 15.3% (10,723) — 20.3% 1/2/2016 $0.19 $136.6 Non-GAAP gross profit increased 130 basis points; GAAP gross profit increased 150 basis points 5,416 % of net sales Office furniture 24.6% $2,222.7 Change $0.8 $11.8 other current assets Hearth Products – Financial Performance(Dollars in millions) 243,409 Transition costs $61,471 $2.5 (Gain)/loss on sale of assets Operating Income % % of net sales $2,304.4 477,299 3,419 178,016 (Dollars in millions, except per share data) Hearth products 7.7% 1/3/2015 $151.6 $4.9 44,759,716 104,931 Operating Profit % $794.3 Fourth Quarter Summary CommentsConsolidated net sales decreased $49.8 million or 7.7 percent to $596.9 million.Non-GAAP gross margin increased 220 basis points compared to prior year driven by strong operational performance, structural cost reductions, favorable material costs and price realization, partially offset by lower volume.Selling and administrative expenses, as a percentage of sales, decreased 40 basis points due to cost  reductions and lower incentive based compensation.The Corporation recorded $12.7 million of restructuring and impairment charges and transition costs.  These costs included goodwill and intangible impairment charges of $11.2 million related to a small office furniture business and $1.5 million of restructuring and transition costs in connection with previously announced closures, acquisition integration and structural realignment.  Fourth quarter 2014 included$24.5 million of restructuring and impairment charges and transition costs. Fourth quarter sales decreased $24.9 million or 14.0 percent to $153.1 million.  Significantly lower biomass sales in the remodel/retrofit channel were partially offset by continued growth in the new construction channel.For the quarter, non-GAAP operating profit decreased $2.0 million or 6.0 percent due to lower volume partially offset by cost reductions, favorable material costs and price realization.Outlook”I am pleased with our performance and believe we are competing well.  Our markets have slowed and we are aggressively moving to reduce structural costs while continuing to invest for long-term profitable growth.  I remain confident in our ability to create long-term shareholder value,” said Mr. Askren.The Corporation estimates sales to be down 3 to 7 percent in the first quarter over the same period in the prior year.  Non-GAAP earnings per share are anticipated to be in the range of $0.16 to $0.21 for the first quarter and $2.20 to $2.60 for the full year, which excludes restructuring and transition costs.About HNI CorporationHNI Corporation is a NYSE traded company (ticker symbol:  HNI) providing products and solutions for the home and workplace environments.  HNI Corporation is a leading global office furniture manufacturer and is the nation’s leading manufacturer of hearth products.  The Corporation’s strong brands have leading positions in their markets.  More information can be found on the Corporation’s website at is external). Net income attributable to HNI Corporation common shareholders – diluted 1/2/2016 $1,739.0 $28.3 $33,393 10,649 5.1% 1/2/2016 $47.8 8.5% (30) $112,713 2,259 42,657 1,960 1.4% 23.4% $0.0 173,726 14.8% $80.4 1,976 35.3% — $0.65 $0.16 6.4% (Dollars in thousands) $0.9 20bps Noncontrolling interest Operating profit (non-GAAP) $9,565 Twelve Months Ended 526,615 $31.1 $77.1 50bps (30,886) 20.3% 18.6% $57,564 18.6% 483,646last_img read more