Public Service officials predict higher power prices in Vermont

07/24/08 7:34AM By Susan Keese
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(Host) In the years ahead, Vermont is not expected to be as reliant on nuclear power from Vermont Yankee.

And officials predict the power won't be as cheap as it is now.

VPR's Susan Keese has more.

(Keese) Vermont gets a third of its electricity from  the Entergy-Vermont Yankee plant, at prices that are among the lowest in New England.

But Richard Smith, the deputy commissioner at the Public Service Department, says that's likely to change.

(Smith) Going forward the diversity of our portfolio is going to be very important. I think relying for a third of our power from one specific plant is probably not a good way to hedge our bets going forward.

(Keese) Smith says the Department has heard from ratepayers that Vermonters want to see more power from smaller facilities spread out over the state.

(Smith) And I think we need to work with utilities and other stake holders and the legislature if need be to forward that issue.

(Keese) The Department of Public Service represents ratepayers before the Public Service Board. The board is reviewing Yankee's bid for a 20-year extension when its current license expires in 2012.

Representative Tony Klein chairs the House committee on Natural Resources and Energy.

He worries that utilities won't be motivated to look into alternative power sources.

(Klein) I'm afraid that they're just going to Entergy to try and get the sweetest deal that they and I think - and this worries me -- that they have a real vested interest in seeing that plant go forward.

(Keese) Klein says that's because Vermont's two largest utilities have a revenue sharing arrangement with Entergy Nuclear.  He says Central Vermont Public Service and Green Mountain Power could gain 700 million dollars from the deal in the first decade of any new contract.

But Smith says any such gains would be passed on to ratepayers.

One thing both men agree on is that Entergy's proposal to create a spinoff company to own the Vernon plant is bad idea.

For VPR News, I'm Susan Keese.

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