Long term Energy Stability

Thoughtful public debate can often bring a better perspective and better solutions. For that reason, GMP welcomes the recent report by the Campaign for Vermont about the future of electric rates in the state. However, in our view, the vision and action steps suggested by the Campaign are not the way to keep Vermont moving toward an energy future that is cost effective, low carbon and incredibly reliable.

Vermont policy and Vermont utilities have a long history of valuing competitive and stable electric rates. And a key component of that has been regulatory and legislative endorsement of utilities making long term power commitments, while other New England utilities divested their power plants and adopted a strategy of buying their power primarily only a few months to a few years in advance. The result of a shorter term approach in the rest of New England has resulted in much more volatile electricity pricing for those customers, including years of double-digit price increases when fossil fuel prices increased from 2005 to 2008.

Vermont, and particularly Green Mountain Power customers, have benefited from the long standing commitment in Vermont to stability. For the past half dozen years, Vermonters served by GMP have enjoyed some of the lowest rates in New England. Our customers and Vermont's economy have benefited from those very stable, low cost rates.

In recent years, expansion of U.S. natural gas production, in combination with a severe recession, caused wholesale electricity market prices to decline significantly. Those utilities relying on short-term market purchases have benefited from the price decline, allowing them to lower their rates to levels that are more competitive with GMP. On average, though, since the neighboring states' utilities restructured and took a shorter term approach to electricity purchasing, GMP customers have paid much lower and more stable electric rates.

GMP expects our rates to remain lower than the majority of the other utilities in the region for the next few years. Looking forward, GMP's power supply portfolio will provide substantial protection against rising power market prices. We are positioned well and expect to maintain very competitive retail rates in the future. Our recent merger with Central Vermont Public Service will help us to achieve this goal by keeping costs down for customers, as we have guaranteed $144 million in savings for our customers over the next ten years.

The Campaign urges that Vermont roll back renewable energy requirements and wait for costs to decline. Our experience at GMP demonstrates that it is possible to maintain stable prices for low emission resources through a well managed and balanced portfolio that combines long term contracts for nuclear, hydroelectric, wind, and other renewable resources, as well as utility ownership of a portion of the generation that our customers need. Further, the cost to customers of participating in renewable resources is reduced by current Vermont policy of selling the associated renewable energy credits. So is the Campaign's call for reducing renewable energy the right choice for Vermont? No, not in GMP's view.

We continue to believe that the right course of action in the long-term is to ramp down reliance on nuclear and fossil-fired power sources, and to increase the role of renewable power sources at a sensible pace.

In fact, our recent Kingdom Community Wind project will be one of the most cost-competitive sources in our portfolio over time, in the same way that our hydro generation plants provide some of the lowest-cost power available to Vermonters. Renewables can play a constructive role by diversifying the electricity supply portfolio, providing long-term price stability, and by increasing the small fraction of our power that is produced within Vermont. The future that GMP sees for Vermont is one in which customers enjoy the type of electricity supply that they tell us they want for their homes and businesses: competitive and stably priced, affordable, clean and reliable. GMP is pursuing a balanced strategy that we believe can deliver on those goals.

Douglas Smith is the Director of Power Supply at Green Mountain Power.


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