Chittenden Corporation Reports Increased Earnings Per Share, and AnnouncesNew Share Repurchase PlanBurlington, VT Chittenden Corporation (NYSE:CHZ) Chairman, President and Chief ExecutiveOfficer, Paul A. Perrault, today announced higher earnings for the year ended December 31,2006 of $85.5 million or $1.83 per diluted share, compared to $82.0 million or $1.74 per dilutedshare a year ago. For the fourth quarter of 2006, net income was $22.5 million or $0.48 perdiluted share, compared to $21.8 million or $0.46 per diluted share earned in the fourth quarter of2005.In making the announcement, Perrault said, I am pleased to report to shareholders that yourCompanys discipline and strong strategic implementation continues to deliver solid resultsdespite the challenging environment . Chittenden also announced its quarterly dividend of $0.20per share, which will be paid on February 9, 2007, to shareholders of record on January 26,2007.Perrault also announced that the Board of Directors approved a new share repurchase plan onJanuary 17, 2007 for one million shares of the Corporations common stock. The repurchase ofthe common stock may be done in negotiated transactions or open market purchases over thenext two years.FOURTH QUARTER 2006 FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTSÀ‰ Commercial loans increased 7% from the end of 2005.À‰ Average deposits for 2006 increased 4% from 2005 with solid growth in CMA/moneymarket deposits of over 4%.À‰ Net interest margin held steady for 2006 at 4.24% and the fourth quarter increased 6basis points to 4.29%.À‰ Nonperforming assets declined 22% from the third quarter of 2006.À‰ The efficiency ratio improved to 54.6% for the fourth quarter of 2006.À‰ The Company repurchased 762,500 common shares in the fourth quarter and thetangible capital ratio remained over 7.00% at year end.ASSETSThe Companys securities portfolio declined from both the prior year end and on a linked quarterbasis to $1.1 billion. The decrease in securities was primarily utilized to fund loan growth andreduce borrowings. Total loans increased by $210 million from the end of last year to $4.7 billionat December 31, 2006. The Company experienced solid loan growth in 2006 throughout all of itsmarkets with particularly strong increases in its multifamily real estate, commercial real estateand construction portfolios.LIABILITIESTotal deposits decreased $20 million from September 30, 2006 reflecting the start of the normalseasonal decline in deposits, which is primarily driven by the operating cycles of the Companysmunicipal and commercial customers. Borrowings at December 31, 2006, were $210 million, adecrease of $17 million from the end of last year due to lower FHLB advances.NET INTEREST INCOMETax-equivalent net interest income for the fourth quarter of 2006 was $64.0 million, compared to$63.7 million for the same quarter of 2005 and $63.5 million for the third quarter of 2006. Theincrease in net interest income from the same period a year ago was due to higher averageearning assets, which was partially offset by a slightly lower net interest margin. The Companysnet interest margin for the fourth quarter was 4.29%, an increase of 6 basis points from the thirdquarter of 2006 and a decline of 1 basis point from the same period a year ago. The increase innet interest margin from the third quarter of 2006 was attributable to higher interest recoveries onformer non-performing loans. The decline in the net interest margin from the fourth quarter of2005 was due to an increase in funding costs, which was partially offset by an increase in theyield on interest earning assets. The increase in funding costs was driven by strong competitionfor both commercial and consumer deposits as well as increases in the federal funds rate in2005 and 2006.NONINTEREST INCOMENoninterest income was $17.9 million for the fourth quarter of 2006, compared with $16.1 millionfor the third quarter and $17.4 million for the same period a year ago. The increase in noninterestincome was primarily attributable to higher investment management and trust fees and othernoninterest income, which was partially offset by lower gains on the sales of mortgage loans.The increase in other noninterest income from the fourth quarter of 2005 was primarily due to$1.1 million received in relation to the Companys interest in a mortgage insurance captive, whichwas partially offset by higher amortization on investments in low income housing limitedpartnerships.NONINTEREST EXPENSENoninterest expenses were $46.3 million for the fourth quarter of 2006, compared to $46.0million for the fourth quarter of 2005. The increase from the same quarter a year ago is primarilya result of higher salary expense which related to increased share-based compensation costsand new branch openings in 2006. The Company recognized $785,000 of share-basedcompensation in the fourth quarter of 2006 as compared to $4,000 in the same quarter a yearago.INCOME TAXESThe effective income tax rates for 2006 were 31.5% for the fourth quarter and 32.1% for the fullyear compared with 34.2% and 34.5%, respectively, for the same periods in 2005. The lowereffective income tax rate was attributable to higher low-income housing and historic rehabilitationtax credits.CREDIT QUALITYThe provision for credit losses was $2.0 million for the fourth quarter of 2006 compared to $1.4million for the same quarter of 2005. The increase in the provision for credit losses from thecomparable period in 2005 was primarily due to higher net charge offs and nonperforming loans.Net charge-offs as a percentage of average loans were 4 basis points for the fourth quarter.hittenden Corporation of 2006, up from 2 basis points for the same quarter a year ago. The increase in net charge-offsprimarily relates to one commercial finance loan that was placed on non-accrual status in the firstquarter of 2006. The allowance for credit losses as a percentage of total loans excludingmunicipal loans was 1.39% at December 31, 2006 compared to 1.43% for the fourth quarter of2005.
Technology Firm Serving National Power Utilities Lands Job Creation IncentivesMica paper manufacturer also approved; two firms could create 34 new jobsMONTPELIER, Vt. – A utility-focused risk management company and the last mica paper maker in the US have been approved for over $700,000 worth of incentives that could produce 34 new jobs over the next five years.At its recent meeting, the Vermont Economic Progress Council gave initial approval to incentives for Utility Risk Management Corporation (URMC) to move their utility-focused risk management company from Pennsylvania to Vermont and add new jobs.In addition, the council gave final approval to an application from Isovolta, Inc. to ensure an expansion of their mica paper manufacturing operation in Rutland instead of adding capacity at one of their many international locations.”These projects will create good new jobs around the state and will have substantial impacts on other valuable sectors such as energy transmission,” said Karen L. Marshall, Chairwoman of the Vermont Economic Progress Council.”The decision by URMC to locate in Stowe will mean high-paying jobs for engineers and GIS foresters with a high-tech, fast growing company,” Marshall said.URMC improves the reliability and productivity of utility companies by identifying, prioritizing and managing vegetative threats to electrical transmission and distribution assets, and then auditing the removal of those threats.This service helps utilities achieve greater compliance with federal mandates for vegetation management and prevent power outages. Because of the incentives authorized, URMC is deciding to relocate the company to Stowe and add several new jobs including engineers and GIS foresters to grow the company to meet the demands of the industry.”We are excited about our move to Vermont as URMC enters its next phase of growth,” said Adam Rousselle, URMC President. “For a fast growing company like URMC, the ability to find quality, technically savvy professionals is a keystone of our future success. Vermont offered the opportunity and environment to find the right people for our business. These incentives will help us grow our business and create jobs for our neighbors.”The company has already scheduled two job fairs on Friday, July 18th and Saturday, July 19th at Ye Old England Inne, 433 Mountain Road in Stowe. For more information on the job fair visit www.utilityrisk.com(link is external)Under the new Vermont Employment Growth Incentive (VEGI) program, the two companies are eligible to receive a maximum of $708,334 in job creation incentives if they meet payroll, employment and capital investment targets.”The decision by Isovolta to expand in Rutland will not only add much needed jobs to that area, but helps guarantee the viability of that plant when decisions are made by Isovolta AG, the parent company,” Marshall said.Isovolta, Inc, a division of Isovolta AG of Austria, produces mica paper for use in high voltage insulation products. It is the last remaining mica paper manufacturing plant in the United States.Isovolta AG produces various materials in 21 locations worldwide. Because of the incentives, Isovolta decided to add employees and install new manufacturing equipment in the Rutland facility.”These incentives will help us expand our operations in Rutland and create jobs,” said Jonathan Roberts, CEO of Isovolta. “This is an investment in our success as well as the community’s and the state’s.”Under reforms passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Jim Douglas in 2006, the VEGI economic incentives were authorized based on job creation and capital investments that must occur before the company receives incentive installments over a period of years.The previous program had companies earning tax credits that were applied against future tax liability.The Council approved the applications after reviewing nine guidelines and applying a rigorous cost-benefit analysis which showed that because of the economic activity that will be generated by these projects, even after payment of the incentives the State will realize a minimum net increase in revenues of $498,484.The Council also determined that these projects would not occur or would occur in a significantly different and less desirable manner if not for the incentives being authorized.The Vermont Economic Progress Council is an independent board consisting of nine Vermont citizens appointed by the governor that considers applications to the state’s economic incentive programs.The Council is attached to the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, whose mission is to help Vermonters improve their quality of life and build strong communities.For more information, visit:www.thinkvermont.com/vepc(link is external)www.utilityrisk.com(link is external)www.isovolta.us(link is external)-30-
Ultramotive Corporation, a Bethel-based company in the field of pressurized dispensing technology, recently launched the environmentally-friendly EarthSafe Air Power System, a breakthrough replacement for traditional aerosol cans, as part of its latest global environmental initiative.The EarthSafe Air Power System uses compressed air as a propellant instead of the customary hydrocarbon gases. The System, the brainchild of Ultramotive founder and President Chris Scheindel, features an innovative valve system, Delbar Piston, and EarthSafe Sealing Plug. Where traditional aerosol cans contained a mixture of the product and hydrocarbon gases sprayed indiscriminately through the nozzle, EarthSafe Air Power System separates the product from the air pressure below that propels it through an innovative valve system.It is an inexpensive packaging option for the industry in a country where hydrocarbons contribute to air pollution and linger in the environment.
The town of Grafton and the Vermont Country Store in Chester are open for business in the wake of Hurricane Irene. Vermont, which sustained infrastructure damage in the millions from Tropical Storm Irene, has made a remarkable and unprecedented three-week ‘comeback’ in time to host an estimated 3 million leaf peepers for fall foliage season, which begins next week. This is an incredible story of overcoming adversity, of communities, private businesses and individuals coming together to put this area back together.The video below includes footage of the Old Tavern at Grafton Inn, Grafton Village Cheese, Grafton Ponds Outdoor Center and other businesses in the village.On September 16, Governor Peter Shumlin and other state officials celebrated the re-opening of picturesque Route 4, one of the state’s major leaf peeping corridors to provide full east-west access for a narrow season that generates $300+ million each year, a quarter of Vermont’s annual tourism revenue. Vermont’s tourism-driven businesses (resorts, inns/b&bs and restaurants) will share in the celebration too, as a large majority were unaffected or sustained little damage from Tropical Storm Irene.‘I toured the road and infrastructure repair areas yesterday with Doug and John Casella, owners of Casella Construction, and was amazed by the determination, hard work and progress made by road repair crews,’ said Bill Shouldice, president & CEO of The Vermont Country Store. ‘It made me proud to be a Vermonter. Thanks to the commitment and selflessness of construction companies like Belden, Casella, Markowski, Mosher, Wilk and many others all working together, Vermont is now open for business and ready to serve the millions of visitors that come to our great state during the fall. Their efforts and those of countless others will help Vermont avoid economic disaster!’Among those ready is The Vermont Country Store, a landmark that attracts nearly 300,000 fall foliage visitors. The business’ two retail locations ‘ the Weston store on Route 100 and the Rockingham store just off exit 6 of I-91 ‘ experienced no storm-related disruption in its operations. Store owners, brothers Cabot, Eliot and Gardner Orton, have seen traffic and sales gradually increasing and are optimistic as visitors have begun returning for the fall. ‘Vermont is open for business and The Vermont Country Store has remained ready to serve the needs of its customers, especially those making the trip to see peak foliage,’ said Eliot. ‘Vermonters are a resourceful and determined people, and we are committed to making this fall’s visitor experience better than ever.’ About The Vermont Country StoreIn 1946, Vrest and Ellen Orton printed their first catalogue’just 12 pages and 36 products’and mailed it to the folks on their Christmas card list and sixty-five years later continues to be Orton family owned. As Purveyors of The Practical and Hard to Find, The Vermont Country Store operates as a multichannel merchant through its mailed catalogs, e-commerce web site and two retail stores in Weston and Rockingham, Vermont. For more information, visit www.VermontCountryStore.com(link is external).The Grafton video shows the world know that Grafton is open for business and is ready to welcome visitors far and wide to the amazing fall foliage season here in Southern Vermont. All main roads to enter Grafton are fully functional; via I-91 through Chester; from the south via Route 30 in Townshend.; and from the East & West via Route 121 from Bellows Fallsand Londonderry. Source: MANCHESTER CENTER, Vt.–(BUSINESS WIRE) Vermont Country Store. Windham Foundation.
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Guardian:More than 40 Catholic institutions are to announce the largest ever faith-based divestment from fossil fuels, on the anniversary of the death of St Francis of Assisi.The sum involved has not been disclosed but the volume of divesting groups is four times higher than a previous church record, and adds to a global divestment movement, led by investors worth $5.5tn.Church institutions joining the action include the Archdiocese of Cape Town, the Episcopal Conference of Belgium and the diocese of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino, the spiritual home of the world’s Franciscan brothers.A spokesman for the €4.5bn German Church bank and Catholic relief organisation Caritas said that it was committing to divest from coal, tar sands and shale oil.In a symbolically charged move, the Italian town of Assisi will also shed all oil, coal and gas holdings the day before a visit by the Italian prime minister, Paolo Gentiloni, to mark St Francis’s feast day.The origins of the latest church action lie in last year’s climate encyclical by Pope Francis – himself named after St Francis of Assisi – although the project was advanced by the Global Catholic Climate Movement.More: Catholic Church to Make Record Divestment From Fossil Fuels In ‘Symbolically Charged Move,’ a Record Faith-Based Fossil-Fuel Divestment by Investors With $5.5 Trillion in Assets
Department of Interior’s Misstatement on Montana Mine Expansion Causes Short-Lived ‘Market Sensation’ FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Montana Public Radio: We’re getting perspective now on last week’s news that the U.S. Interior Department said it had approved a major coal mine expansion in Montana. It caused the stock of the mining company involved to temporarily spike.Six days later, Interior rescinded its statement, saying no expansion was approved, and the original approval statement was the result of “internal miscommunication.”Matthew Preston is the research director for North American coal markets for a global research and consulting firm called Wood Mackenzie.Here’s his take on Interior telling the Associated Press that it had approved Westmoreland Coal’s proposal to expand it’s Rosebud Mine outside Colstrip by 10.5 square miles, potentially adding 19 years of life to the mine.“It did cause something of a sensation in the market for a small period, brief, of time, and relatively small scale, but it was something that you can’t just pass over lightly.”Westmoreland’s stock, which lost 93 percent of its value last year, rose by as much as 49 percent on news that Interior had greenlighted the company to mine an additional 60 million tons of coal at Rosebud. That didn’t sound exactly rational to Preston, given that the sole customer for the Rosebud mine’s coal is the Colstrip power plant.“I’m not sure what the market was thinking, because it’s been pretty clear that the life of the Colstrip plant is limited. You know, a third of the plant is going to go away in 2022, and perhaps the whole plant by 2028, so adding another 60 million tons to the reserves they have wouldn’t seem to make much difference. But, the market was somehow interested in that. You know, it’s a market, so sentiment happened to turn, and people took that announcement to heart, I guess.”The Colstrip plant’s life is being limited by at least one of the west coast utilities that buys its electricity. Seattle-based Puget Sound Energy has made it clear that it plans to source its energy in the future from sources with less impact on climate change.Some supporters of coal based energy are optimistic that the Trump administration will turn the industry’s fortunes around, and that that could mean an extended life for the Colstip power plant and the mines that support it. Wood Mackenzie’s Preston doesn’t share that belief.“Yeah, no, I don’t think so. I don’t think anything that the Trump administration is doing right now would change the minds of the folks that are owners of the Colstrip plant. Everybody can change their minds, but the owners of the plant seem set on moving some other direction than coal.”Still, the Interior Department’s statement that the Rosebud mine expansion was OK’d did have an impact on Westmoreland’s stock price, meaning investors potentially made or lost money based on the statement and its retraction six days later.“And it’s certainly unfortunate, from the point of view of the folks that may have made the decision to invest or not invest because of that. I don’t know that there’s any regulations that would come down on specific individuals within the Interior [Department],” Preston says. “I don’t think there’s any — this is my opinion — I wouldn’t expect there to be any ulterior motive to this announcement and then retracting it, I think it was as they state, a miscommunication within the office.”The Interior Department and Westmoreland Coal declined interview requests from Montana Public Radio and Yellowstone Public Radio.More: Interior’s Misstatement On Montana Coal Mine Leads To Small ‘Market Sensation’
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Des Moines Register:MidAmerican Energy said Wednesday it plans to invest $922 million in added wind-power capacity, equaling as much renewable energy as its customers use.“If the project is approved, it will allow our customers to get 100 percent of their annual energy use from a clean, renewable and cost-effective source,” said Adam Wright, MidAmerican’s CEO. “This is, no doubt, historic.”MidAmerican said it will be the first investor-owned electric utility nationally to meet the goal, which the Des Moines utility announced in 2016.The latest wind investment, expected to be completed in late 2020, would enable the company to freeze consumer rates, possibly up to 15 years, MidAmerican said. “With wind, we don’t need to buy fuel to make the energy,” Wright said. “This is a big reason why MidAmerican Energy’s rates are 37 percent below the national average.”MidAmerican needs the Iowa Utilities Board approval before it can move forward with the project. MidAmerican’s newest project would add 591 megawatts of wind generation. With nearly 2,200 turbines, the company’s wind generation capacity is 4,400 megawatts. It has 27 wind farms across Iowa. With its newest project, MidAmerican will have invested about $12.3 billion in wind generation in Iowa since 2004.More: MidAmerican Will be First to Create Enough Wind Energy to Cover 100% of Consumer Use MidAmerican Plans for 100% Wind by 2021
Ignoring Washington, corporate America continues to expand its renewable energy footprint FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享New York Times:Dozens of Fortune 500 companies, from tech giants like Apple and Google to Walmart and General Motors, are voluntarily investing billions of dollars in new wind and solar projects to power their operations or offset their conventional energy use, becoming a major driver of renewable electricity growth in the United States.“You’re definitely not seeing corporations slow down their appetite for renewables under Trump — if anything, demand continues to grow,” said Malcolm Woolf, senior vice president for policy at Advanced Energy Economy, a clean energy business group. “And it means that many utilities increasingly have to evolve to satisfy this demand.”One big question, however, is whether these corporate renewable deals will remain a relatively niche market, adding some wind and solar at the margins but not really making a sizable dent in overall emissions, or whether these companies can use their clout to transform America’s grid and help usher in a new era of low-carbon power.Last year in the United States, 19 large corporations announced deals with energy providers to build 2.78 gigawatts worth of wind and solar generating capacity, equal to one-sixth of all of the renewable capacity added nationwide in 2017, according to the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Business Renewable Center. (Power companies themselves added much of the rest, often in response to state mandates.)That trend appears to be accelerating. Corporations have already announced deals for another 2.48 gigawatts of wind and solar in the first half of 2018, as companies like AT&T and Nestlé join the search for cleaner power to fulfill their sustainability goals and take advantage of the rapidly declining cost of renewables.“We didn’t intend to do this as a statement about Paris, though it has become a statement that we’re definitely still in,” said Brian Janous, general manager of energy at Microsoft, which has so far bought enough wind and solar power to match 50 percent of the demand from its global data centers.“But with how fast wind and solar prices have fallen, we see this as something that makes financial sense,” he said.At least 22 companies in the Fortune 500 have committed to buying enough renewable power to match 100 percent of their electricity use in the years ahead. And some analysts say these goals could help spur electric utilities to continue reducing their own emissions even as the Trump administration rolls back Obama-era policies like the Clean Power Plan, a regulation focused on reducing carbon emissions from power plants.“We think this is a major trend,” said Lisa Wood, vice president of customer solutions at the Edison Electric Institute, a major utility trade group. “Customers are becoming the driver.”More: A Year After Trump’s Paris Pullout, U.S. Companies Are Driving a Renewables Boom
Japanese firms abandon plans for 2GW coal plant near Tokyo FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Japan’s Idemitsu Kosan, Kyushu Electric Power and Tokyo Gas said on Thursday they have given up their plan to build a 2 gigawatt (GW) coal-fired power station in Chiba, near Tokyo, as it would not be economically feasible.The move follows a similar decision by Chugoku Electric Power and JFE Steel, a unit of JFE Holdings last month, and comes amid growing pressure in most of the world for companies to divest coal assets due to environmental concerns.Burning coal to generate power produces large quantities of carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases responsible for climate change. An international agreement reached in Paris in 2015 committed signatories to cutting fossil fuel use.Kyushu Electric and Tokyo Gas said instead they will consider building a gas-fired power plant, using liquefied natural gas (LNG), at the same site owned by Idemitsu.Amid growing pressure, Japan’s trading house Marubeni Corp said last year that it would no longer start new coal-fired power plant projects and would halve its net coal power generating capacity of about 3 GW by 2030 to help cut greenhouse gas emissions and tackle global climate change.More: Japan’s Idemitsu, Kyushu Elec, Tokyo Gas scrap coal-fired power plant plan
U.S.’ largest battery storage system begins operation in California, much more in the pipeline FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Power plant developers LS Power Group and Terra-Gen LLC added two big new lithium-ion battery stations to the California ISO’s expanding portfolio of electrochemical energy storage in June, marking the start of a potential sevenfold jump in battery resources on the state’s primary power system in 2020.That includes the initial 62.5-MW phase of LS Power’s planned 250-MW Gateway Energy Storage Project, which came online June 9, one week after 16.5 MW of battery storage at Terra-Gen’s Mojave 90 wind-storage hybrid project entered service, CAISO data shows.Located next to the natural gas-fired Otay Mesa Generating Project in San Diego County near the U.S.-Mexico border, LS Power’s Gateway system is now the largest operational battery storage facility in the United States, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data. The previous biggest system, LS Power’s 40-MW Vista Energy Storage facility, is also in San Diego County.“Utility-scale battery energy storage projects such as LS Power’s Gateway and Vista projects are effective ways to enhance grid reliability and reduce costs to consumers by shifting energy from midday solar production hours to the evening peak,” John King, LS Power’s executive vice president for renewables, said in an email.Battery storage is a critical part of California’s strategy to replace retiring natural gas generation while balancing rising volumes of variable renewable energy resources, especially solar power, that are increasingly curtailed in the middle of the day amid power oversupplies.Together, the two new projects boosted energy storage on the state’s primary transmission system to roughly 215 MW, from 136 MW at the start of the year, a CAISO official said. If all of the energy storage projects seeking 2020 interconnection remain on track, the grid operator expects to have roughly 923 MW of battery storage online by the end of 2020.[Garrett Hering]More ($): Most powerful U.S. battery system charges up in Calif. storage surge