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Douglas looking for outs on energy

BRATTLEBORO — Gov. James Douglas said Friday that his administration is evaluating whether it makes sense for Vermont to put most of its energy eggs in the baskets held by Hydro-Quebec and Entergy Nuclear, the owner of Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

Douglas said he met with the president of Hydro-Quebec while he was in Montreal earlier this week and inquired whether power would be available to Vermont customers after the Hydro-Quebec contracts with Vermont utilities start expiring in 2015. He said the answer he got was encouraging but noncommittal, and he pointed out that any actual contract would have to be negotiated by utilities, not the state.
Vermont's energy future has a lot of question marks, as not only the Hydro-Quebec contracts with Central Vermont Public Service and Green Mountain Power start expiring in six to eight years, but the utilities' contracts with Entergy expire in 2012 — and with it two-thirds of all the electricity needed by Vermonters.
Douglas said Public Service Commissioner David O'Brien had established what he termed "a working group" to evaluate what direction the state should pursue and exactly how diversified the state's energy portfolio should be.
"We have a very clean portfolio," he said, referring to low greenhouse gas emissions from hydro and nuclear power.
Douglas, whose administration so far has been a strong supporter of Entergy Nuclear's various plans, said that the... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
Douglas said he met with the president of Hydro-Quebec while he was in Montreal earlier this week and inquired whether power would be available to Vermont customers after the Hydro-Quebec contracts with Vermont utilities start expiring in 2015. He said the answer he got was encouraging but noncommittal, and he pointed out that any actual contract would have to be negotiated by utilities, not the state.
Vermont's energy future has a lot of question marks, as not only the Hydro-Quebec contracts with Central Vermont Public Service and Green Mountain Power start expiring in six to eight years, but the utilities' contracts with Entergy expire in 2012 — and with it two-thirds of all the electricity needed by Vermonters.
Douglas said Public Service Commissioner David O'Brien had established what he termed "a working group" to evaluate what direction the state should pursue and exactly how diversified the state's energy portfolio should be.
"We have a very clean portfolio," he said, referring to low greenhouse gas emissions from hydro and nuclear power.
Douglas, whose administration so far has been a strong supporter of Entergy Nuclear's various plans, said that the company provides the cheapest power for Vermont consumers. That contract was negotiated by the Dean administration as part of the sale of Vermont Yankee to Entergy in 2002.
The wholesale price of electricity coming from Vermont Yankee is around 4 cents per kilowatt hour.
Douglas said his administration hasn't decided on the proposed license extension of Vermont Yankee for 20 years. He noted that while his administration had supported the 20 percent power boost or uprate on economic grounds, the Public Service Department had raised serious safety issues which still haven't been resolved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Douglas was in Brattleboro Friday as part of the annual "Governor's Day," where he toured various businesses and nonprofit organizations, met one-on-one with private citizens for 15 minute sessions and met with the press to discuss state, regional and local issues.
On wind energy development, Douglas said last week's vote in the Northeast Kingdom town of Sheffield, which voted strongly in favor of a proposal by UPC to build a wind facility, hadn't changed his mind at all.
"I feel comfortable with what we've said," Douglas said, who has said he is in favor of "Vermont scale" wind facilities — small, residential-scale projects.
He noted that while Sheffield, along with another Northeast Kingdom town of East Haven, have now gone on record supporting wind energy development in the towns, their eyes may be more on tax revenues than ridgeline development.
"We have to weigh the economic value against the environmental impact," he said.
Douglas said he believed the environmental trade-offs were greater than the economic benefits of wind facilities on Vermont's mountaintops. He said while Vermont ski areas have developed Vermont's mountaintops and ridgelines, they have provided more of an economic boost than the proposed wind projects.
"It's up to the Public Service Board to make the ultimate decision," he said.
Douglas attended the annual meeting of Brattleboro Memorial Hospital at noon, briefing the hospital's leaders on his health care initiatives. Earlier in the day, he said, he met with Richard Palmisano, the CEO of Retreat Healthcare, a large private psychiatric facility in Brattleboro.
Douglas said that The Retreat, as it is commonly called, could play a role in the state's decision to close the Vermont State Hospital in Waterbury, by hosting a smaller, intermediate care facility.
Contact Susan Smallheer at susan.smallheer@rutlandherald.com

Source: http://www.rutlandherald.co...

DEC 10 2005
https://www.windaction.org/posts/660-douglas-looking-for-outs-on-energy
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