Vermont Utilities To Buy Wind Power From New Hampshire

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(Host) Vermont’s two largest utilities have won approval to buy power from a wind project in northern New Hampshire.

The companies have been under pressure to line up new power sources as current contracts expire – including those with Vermont Yankee.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) The New Hampshire developer is called Granite Reliable Wind, and it plans a 99 megawatt project in Coos County.

Central Vermont Public Service Corporation and Green Mountain Power will each get about 4 percent of their energy needs under 20-year contracts.

But the price the companies will pay has been kept confidential. GMP spokeswoman Dorothy Schnure said the details need to be secret because the utilities are negotiating other power deals.

(Schnure) "The Public Service Board reviews that. And so in their judgment it’s also a very good price and a very good product for our customers. But because a lot of these things are competitively bid, it would put us at a disadvantage with other bidders if they knew what we were paying for this."

(Dillon) The PSB decision does offer some clues about the pricing structure. The board said the contract was not the absolute cheapest that had been offered in the bid process, although it compares favorably with offers from other renewable generators. The board said the 20-year contract provides stability, and that the prices will be slightly higher than current market forecasts.

Steve Costello is a spokesman for Central Vermont Public Service.

(Costello) "We think we’ve gotten a very, very good deal. The board was clearly pleased with the price we’re paying. It is far lower than some of the other types of renewables out publicly recently. The price we’re paying is way lower than that and very, very competitive with even some of the non renewable projects that we’ve seen."

(Dillon) The PSB also noted that a disadvantage of wind is that it’s an intermittent power source because the wind doesn’t blow all the time.

Granite Reliable Wind will put up 33 wind turbines. CVPS plans to buy 30 percent of the output, while Green Mountain Power will buy 25 percent. The power contracts start in April 2012.

The utilities face a power supply gap over the next few years as contracts with Vermont Yankee and Hydro-Quebec expire. The companies are negotiating a new deal with Hydro-Quebec.

But they have not reached an agreement with Vermont Yankee. The future of the nuclear plant is in doubt after the state Senate this winter voted against extending its license for another 20 years.

Dorothy Schnure from GMP said the utility is in good shape as it works to line up new energy sources.

(Schnure) "We need to add new resources to our mix whether or not the Vermont Yankee plant is operating, and that is uncertain at this point. So, we are taking steps, making some contracts that we will need whether or not the plant is operating, and we are just looking very closely at what the best time to make those steps is."

(Dillon) Schnure said the utility was drawn to the New Hampshire project because of the price, and because its customers want renewable power that does not produce greenhouse gases.

For VPR News, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.


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