Burlington Sells its Shares of Vermont Yankee

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The city-owned Burlington Electric Department has sold off its stake in the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. City officials say the sale will allow the city to stabilize electric rates and invest in renewable energy projects.

VPR’s John Dillon has more.

Burlington Electric owned just 3.6% of Vermont Yankee. But the nuclear plant supplied about 40% of the city’s power needs. On Wednesday, the city sold its shares back to the other owners. These companies include Central Vermont Public Service, Green Mountain Power and seven out-of-state utilities.

Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle says the city was paid $3.3 million for its stake in the plant. He says replacement power will cost $2.1 million less per year than what the city would have paid for the Yankee power. So he says the city comes out ahead on the deal.

(Clavelle) “In my opinion, this is an environmentally friendly move as well as a financially sound, fiscally prudent move. And it will allow us to stabilize rates, hopefully for years to come, while exploring more renewable options.”

Officials at Burlington Electric says this is a great time to be buying power. New natural gas plants are coming on line in New England. And energy companies have begun to develop alternative energy sources.

Patty Richards is resource planning director for the utility. She says the city hopes to buy power soon from a new wind energy project planned for southern Vermont. Richards says the city has already lined up replacement power for Vermont Yankee this year. Burlington is now shopping around for electricity contracts for 2003 and 2004.

(Richards) “At a time when wholesale markets costs are low, they’re in the low $30s to $30s, Vermont Yankee power on average was $45 a megawatt hour. So this is a really good opportunity for Burlington. And we’re also pursuing renewable generation resources as we look out into the future.”

City officials say customers won’t see lower rates from the sale. But they say the deal will allow the city to put off possible rate increases.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Burlington.

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