(HOST) Public Service Department Commissioner David O’Brien says the state should strongly consider renegotiating its power contract with Hydro-Quebec as part of Vermont’s large range energy plan. The Hydro-Quebec contract currently accounts for about 28 percent of the state’s energy mix and it’s scheduled to expire in 2016.
Speaking Tuesday night on VPR’s Switchboard program, O’Brien said he believes efforts should be made to see if Hydro-Quebec is interested in offering Vermont utilities another contract:
(O’Brien) "The scale of the energy projects that they have in Quebec and the amount of reliable power they are able to provide that’s clean is very unique. And [it’s] hard for us to ever – I would argue, [it’s] impossible – for us to replicate here in Vermont on that scale. So I think talking to them down the road is a good idea and we’re trying to lay the groundwork for that."
(Host) But Paul Burns, who’s the director of VPIRG, thinks it’s a mistake to enter into another contract with Hydro-Quebec:
(Burns) "Hydro-Quebec almost bankrupted our largest utilities in the state. The contract that we have with them, now a long-term contract, was a terrible deal for Vermont consumers. We’re not saying that it is impossible to get power from Hydro-Quebec in the future. We think that it’s just simply not the best choice available to us."
(Host) Burns says that VPIRG’s 20-year plan shows that the state could meet its energy needs without Hydro-Quebec power if it invested more heavily in energy efficiency and conservation programs.