Energy experts say Hydro Quebec contracts likely to be renewed

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(Host) There’s a good chance that Vermont will be able to meet a sizeable portion of its future energy needs by renegotiating its power contracts with Hydro Quebec.

That’s the word from the head of the Central Vermont Public Corporation – the state’s largest utility.

VPRs Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Currently Vermont receives roughly a third of its electrical power from Hydro Quebec and this contract will begin to phase out in about 5 years.

Another third of state’s electricity comes from the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. Vermont Yankee’s license to operate expires in 2012 and the plant’s owners are seeking a 20 year extension.  Lawmakers must give their approval to any extension plan and a vigorous debate over this issue is expected during the 2009 session.

Bob Young is the president of the Central Vermont Public Service Corporation.

Young says the outlook for a new contract with Hydro Quebec is quite good:

(Young)"I think it’s a very high probability that we will have a new contract with Hydro Quebec. As many people know we have started negotiations on the new contract. We started in the spring of last year and it is our expectation on the part of both Hydro Quebec and the Vermont utilities that we would finish our negotiations by the end of ’08. And hopefully have a detailed contract that we could ten take to the Public Service Board for their review in 2009."

(Kinzel) Young expects that the new contract will be a little smaller than the state’s current deal and he says there’s a good reason for this approach:

(Young) "Today roughly 80 % of CVs power comes from two resources Hydro Quebec and Vermont Yankee and the way I like to describe it is if you think about this in terms of your personal financial portfolio. Would you like to have 80% of it in two different stocks? And the answer is probably no and as we look at the opportunities going forward for the state. I think that we view that Hydro Quebec ought to play a big role an important role but not necessarily as big a role as they’ve played in the past."   

(Kinzel) Young says CVPS will also consider negotiating a new power contract with Vermont Yankee if the results of an independent safety review clearly demonstrate that the facility will be safe to operate for another 20 years.

For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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