State invests in GMP

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(Host) Green Mountain Power held its annual shareholders’ meeting on Monday. And company officials welcomed the state of Vermont as their newest investor.

State Treasurer, Jeb Spaulding, says his investment managers bought GMP shares because the company is well-run and meets high standards of environmental responsibility.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) The state is starting out with a small stake in GMP – just five-hundred shares. But Treasurer, Jeb Spaulding, says he’ll add more as market conditions permit.

Spaulding told the company’s annual meeting that he’s impressed both by the company’s financial results, and by its strong commitment to corporate responsibility.

(Spaulding) “And it seemed to me, that if we’re going to be investing in utilities – which we do – we may as well invest in one that is in-state – that has excellent leadership in the management area. And I think that leadership translates into a very, very, very strong position as far as environmental leadership.”

(Dillon) Spaulding says he got the idea of investing in the company when he visited GMP’s wind power facility in Searsburg last fall.

He says the company’s commitment to renewable energy will pay off in the future, when climate change will force costly restrictions on the use of carbon-based fossil fuels.

(Spaulding) “And utilities and other companies that are thinking ahead on how they’re going to take advantage of market opportunities are going to be the best investments for shareholders.”

(Dillon) GMP was the first utility in the Northeast to join the Chicago Climate Exchange, which uses a market trading system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The company has also committed to reduce its own greenhouse gas production by four percent by 2006.

Those steps win praise from environmentalists.

But some parts of GMP’s energy portfolio may prove more controversial. The company now gets about thirty-seven percent of its power from the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. The plant is supposed to shut down in 2012.

GMP President, Chris Dutton, would like to see Yankee’s license extended. Dutton says the company couldn’t replace all the Yankee power with conservation programs. Natural gas is too expensive, he says, and coal is too polluting.

(Dutton) “So in my judgment, nuclear energy represents an emissions-free alternative to coal. It’s low-cost right now. It’s by far the most cost- effective resource we have in our portfolio. If we’re going to turn out back on it, we better have something that’s very attractive to replace it. And I don’t see that replacement.”

(Dillon) Dutton says GMP also wants to resume talks with Hydro-Quebec, which supplies about thirty percent of the energy mix. Contracts for the Canadian power expire in 2015.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon.

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