Coalition Calls for Lower Electric Rates

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(Host) A consumer group says utilities should lower their rates after they sell the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. The Vermont Electricity Consumers Coalition represents business and residential customers. Coalition spokeswoman Candy Moot criticizes a recent settlement agreement between the state and the utilities that want to sell the plant:

(Moot) “It’s the position of the Vermont Electricity Consumer’s Coalition that the deal that was struck between the Department of Public Service and the two big private utilities, Green Mountain Power and CVPS, really has no tangible benefit whatsoever for ratepayers.”

(Host) Moot says ratepayers deserve a 4-5% rate decrease from the $180 million Yankee sale. She says Vermont has gone from having the lowest rates in New England in 1991, to some of the highest rates in the country today. Moot is associate state director of AARP, a national organization which represents retired people. She says senior citizens and others on fixed incomes cannot absorb additional rate increases.

The Vermont Electric Consumers Coalition includes business customers as well. David Rousse is the chairman of the coalition and vice president of the office products division for FiberMark, a Brattleboro paper company:

(Rousse) “Any business that’s in Vermont is at a competitive disadvantage when they have to pay a higher cost for such a basic necessity as electricity than their competitors based in other states. That goes for the ski areas here, trying to compete against New Hampshire, New York and Colorado. And it goes for businesses such as myself. We make paper and I have to pay upwards of $70 per ton of product for electricity. And the average industrial rate that my competitors have access to [electricity] is about $46 a ton for the same thing. So it erodes our ability to be competitive.”

(Host) Utilities and the state defend the Yankee deal. They say it frees Vermont from the risks of owning a nuclear plant. And they say the deal protects consumers by providing a stable, long-term source of power. The Yankee sale is now under review by the state Public Service Board.

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