BOSTON >> Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) announced today that its Legal Food Hub, a first-of-its-kind initiative pairing local farmers and food entrepreneurs with pro bono legal services, has plans to expand nationally in the next several years. This will be the first national program launched by CLF in its fifty-year history. The announcement comes as the Hub releases its second annual report, highlighting the $825,000 in free legal services that this effort has provided to over 150 individuals and businesses throughout New England.

"Small-scale farms and food businesses are indispensable to a just, healthy and economically vibrant region," said Jenny Rushlow, Director of CLF's Farm and Food Initiative. "Unfortunately, like every small business, they have legal needs that too often go unaddressed because of the cost. We started the Legal Food Hub to relieve that cost burden and help grow local, sustainable food systems, and we're proud of the inroads we've made over the past two years. Still, we know that farmers and food entrepreneurs all around the country face many of the same challenges as those here in New England, and we look forward to replicating the success of this program."


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After launching in Massachusetts in 2014, the Hub has since expanded to Maine, will be launching in Rhode Island this October, and will be expanding to Connecticut in 2017 in partnership with Yale Law School. CLF is actively seeking local partners in other states passionate about food advocacy and interested in being a part of this initiative. Interested parties should contact the Hub at legalfoodhub@clf.org.

Vermont Green Line and Citizens Energy announce partnership

WAKEFIELD, MASS. >> The Vermont Green Line today announced a new partnership with Citizens Energy Corporation to assist low-income Vermont residents with their energy needs.

By becoming an owner in the Vermont Green Line alongside National Grid, Citizens Energy will finance its share of the line and use its profits, in concert with the project partners, to help working families and others in need in Vermont.

Citizens Energy partners with utilities and experienced developers across the country to develop new high-voltage transmission lines. Under its unique model, Citizens Energy's projects —now including the Vermont Green Line—increase grid reliability, unlock access to large quantities of renewable energy, and fund charitable programs for people living in the area, all at no additional cost to ratepayers.

"We are thrilled about this collaboration with Citizens," said Ed Krapels, CEO of Anbaric, the lead developer of Vermont Green Line. "It builds on the significant benefits the Vermont Green Line will bring to the state, including economic development, community investment, and lower market energy prices."

The Vermont Green Line is being developed by Anbaric and National Grid, which joined forces in 2014 to develop transmission lines to bring cost-effective, renewable energy into New England. Their alliance is developing the Vermont Green Line, a proposed 60-mile, 400 megawatt HVDC transmission line linking wind and hydropower resources north and west of Beekmantown, New York, with New Haven, Vermont, via a cable to be buried along public roadways and submerged beneath the waters of Lake Champlain. With its global record of accomplishment in connection with such projects, the National Grid-Anbaric alliance offers unrivaled experience in the field of HVDC transmission development.

"Citizens Energy is excited to be a part of this effort to bring carbon-free, clean energy to the region — while continuing our corporate mission to use profits from successful ventures to assist those in need," said Citizens Energy Chairman and President Joseph P. Kennedy II. "This project shows how building green transmission lines can benefit ratepayers and the environment while helping the most vulnerable families in our midst. We look forward to working with National Grid, Anbaric, and our friends in Vermont to deliver affordable clean energy through the Vermont Green Line."

In California, Citizens has used profits from its ownership stake in the $1.9 billion SunrisePowerlink line to install photovoltaic solar systems on the rooftops of low-income families in the Imperial Valley, the poorest region of the state, at no cost to homeowners. The Solar Homes program has allowed households to cut their energy costs significantly and make air-conditioning more affordable in a region where summer temperatures soar over 110 degree and pose health risks to senior citizens, young children, and other vulnerable citizens.

Working with Vermonters, Citizens Energy will use its ownership in the Vermont Green Line to find similar ways to help low-income residents in the state cut their energy costs, reduce reliance on fossil fuels, and take part in the clean energy revolution.

"We are grateful to Joe Kennedy and Citizens Energy for their partnership and innovative business model to use their profits to help those in need," said Dean Seavers, US President for National Grid. "In addition to transitioning the region to a clean energy future, we are proud to give back to the many host communities that have been collaborative throughout the project's progress."

Take the survey on ending homelessness

BRATTLEBORO >> The Alliance worked with the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition during the 2016 Legislative Session on several affordable housing and reducing homelessness proposals listed in the 2016 Legislative Agenda. As reported in the post-session Legislative Agenda summary, the Legislature authorized funding to develop a "Roadmap to End Homelessness."

A steering committee of housing and service providers, state agencies and funding organizations is overseeing an effort to reduce homelessness and stabilize vulnerable populations in the state. The specific purpose is to build on existing efforts by developing a system for facilitating service-connected affordable housing options, building local capacity, determining costs and identifying available and needed resources.

The Committee has engaged the Corporation for Supportive Housing to gather information through interviews, facilitated meetings and an online survey as part of its assessment of current efforts and challenges encountered by experts in the field. The feedback it receives from tenants, program participants and Vermonters with lived experience of homelessness will greatly inform its recommended "roadmap" for ending homelessness. Practitioners are also invited to take the survey and encouraged to share the information with their networks.

Contact Erhard Menke, Executive Director, Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition at erhardm@vtaffordablehousing.org to get involved. To take the survey, visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/CSH_VT_Roadmap.