Energy in Vermont

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Vermont energy needs are served by over twenty utilities. The largest is Green Mountain Power, a subsidiary of Gaz Metro which recently also took over Central Vermont Public Service. Together this single company represents 70% of the retail customers in Vermont. The state is a very small electricity consumer compared with other states. Its electricity sector has the lowest carbon footprint in the country. As of 2010, the state has the lowest electricity costs in New England.[1]

Electricity[edit]

Electricity generation sources for Vermont

Supply[edit]

In 2006, the total summer generating capacity of Vermont was 1,117 megawatts.[2]

As of 2010, most of the energy is purchased wholesale for distribution from Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant and Hydro-Québec. The costs from Vermont Yankee were about 3 to 5 cents per kilowatt hour.[1]

In 2009, the state received 1/3 or 400 MW[3] of its power from Hydro-Québec and 1/3 from Vermont Yankee.[4] In total, the state got half its power from Canada and other states. It received 75 percent of the power it generated in the state from Vermont Yankee.[5]

Nuclear power[edit]

Vermont has the highest rate of nuclear-generated power in the nation, 73.7 percent.[6] As one result, Vermont is one of only two states with no coal-fired power plant.[7]

There have been a number of anti-nuclear protests about Vermont Yankee since the 1970s, including protests following the Japanese Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011.

On August 28, 2013, Entergy announced that economic factors, notably the lower cost of electricity provided by competing natural gas-fired power plants, had led Entergy to cease operations and schedule the decommissioning of the plant in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Imports[edit]

Since the 1980s, the state has turned to Quebec, its northern neighbor, to fulfill part of its energy needs. A first long-term supply contract has been signed between Vermont utilities and government-owned Hydro-Québec on July 25, 1984.[8][9] The contract was renewed for 26 years in a deal signed in 2010.[10]

Renewable energy[edit]

In May 2009, Vermont created the first state-wide renewable energy feed-in law.[11] In 2010, there were about 150 methane digesters in the nation, Vermont led the nation with six online.[12]

The state has 78 hydro power dams with a combined capacity of 143 megawatts, about 12 percent of the state's total requirement.[3] However Vermont experts estimate that the state has the capacity to ultimately generate from 134 to 175 megawatts of electricity from hydro power.[13]

Transmission[edit]

All Vermont utilities get their power from lines run by ISO New England. Each utility pays a share of transmitting power over these lines. Vermont's share is about 4.5 percent. A unique aspect of Vermont's electric power system is the Vermont Electric Power Company (VELCO.) VELCO is a utility that's sole purpose is to maintain the state's main transmission lines which move power through the state and deliver it to the various customer-facing utilities' systems throughout the state. VELCO is owned collectively by the state's customer-facing utilities and operates the higher voltage 115KV, 345KV, and HVDC lines throughout the state as well as the major transmission substations. The customer facing utilities, such as Green Mountain Power, maintain lower voltage subtransmission lines (below 69kv) which bring power from the major VELCO transmission substations to smaller distribution substations as well as the distribution lines that bring power from substations to customers.[14]

Demand[edit]

In 2005, the inhabitants of the state used an average of 5,883 kilowatt hours of electricity per capita.[15] Another source says that each household consumed 7,100 kilowatt-hours annually in 2008.[16]

2008 peak demand in the state was 1,100 megawatts (MW).[3]

Retail industry structure[edit]

Vermont does not allow customers to shop for competitive energy suppliers.[1] The state's sole investor owned utility, Green Mountain Power Corporation, serves about 80 percent of Vermont's customers. The remaining customers are served by two non-profit cooperative utilities and 14 municipal utilities. GMP became the state's largest power company through its merger with Central Vermont Public Service (CVPS) in 2012.[17]

Cost[edit]

While Vermont paid the lowest rates in New England for power in 2007, it is still ranked among the highest eleven states in the nation; that is, about 16 percent higher than the national average.[7]

In 2009, the state had the highest energy rates for energy (including heating) in the US and the worst affordability gap nationwide.[17]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Linowes, Lisa (8 December 2010). "Vermont's pending price shock". Barton, Vermont: The Barton Chronicle. p. 6. 
  2. ^ "State Electric Profiles". Eia.doe.gov. Retrieved 2010-07-31. 
  3. ^ a b c Baird, Joel Banner (9 August 2009). "Vermont Dam Dilemma". Burlington, Vermont: Burlington Free Press. pp. 1D. 
  4. ^ Dunbar, Bethany M. (October 22, 2008). Ten candidates talk business. The Barton Chronicle. 
  5. ^ McMahon, Dennis (20 September 2009). "My Turn: Getting real on electricity challenges". Burlington, Vermont: Burlington Free Press. pp. 7B. 
  6. ^ Hemingway, Sam (July 20, 2008). Nukes by the numbers. Burlington Free Press. 
  7. ^ a b Handelsman, Richard, (December 1, 2008). My Turn: Truths, half-truths about energy. Burlington Free Press. 
  8. ^ Bolduc, André; Hogue, Clarence; Larouche, Daniel (1989). Hydro-Québec After 100 Years of Electricity. Montreal: Libre-Expression. p. 318. 
  9. ^ Osterlund, Peter (July 19, 1984). "New England plugs into Canadian energy". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved January 1, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Governor, Premier announce preliminary Vermont-Hydro-Québec agreement" (Press release). Hydro-Québec. 11 March 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-06. 
  11. ^ Austin, Anna. "Vermont first state to pass renewable energy feed-in law". Biomassmagazine.com. Retrieved 2010-07-31. 
  12. ^ Dunbar, Bethany M. (10 February 2010). "Dairy farmers are making more than milk these days". Barton, Vermont: The Barton Chronicle. p. 1. 
  13. ^ Gresser, Joseph (August 20, 2008). Panel considers small hydro power potential. The Barton Chronicle. 
  14. ^ Gresser, Joseph (November 5, 2008). VEC seeks a 9.2 percent rate hike. The Barton Chronicle. 
  15. ^ U.S. Per Capita Electricity Use By State In 2005. "Data – Swivel". Swivel.com. Retrieved 2010-07-31. 
  16. ^ Bill Morris, What's the Greenest Place in America? Hint: It Has 8 Million People, AOL News, Dec 4, 2009
  17. ^ a b Coutts, Jim (28 June 2009). "My Turn: Vermont's energy support program is long overdue". Burlington, Vermont: Burlington Free Press. pp. 7B.