Energy in Vermont
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 small electricity consumer compared with other states. Therefore, its electricity sector has the lowest carbon footprint in the country. As of 2010, the state has the lowest electricity costs in New England.
In 2006, the total summer generating capacity of Vermont was 1,117 megawatts.
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.
In 2009, the state received 1/3 or 400 MW of its power from Hydro-Québec and 1/3 from Vermont Yankee. 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.
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.
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. The contract was renewed for 26 years in a deal signed in 2010.
The state has 78 hydro power dams with a combined capacity of 143 megawatts, about 12 percent of the state's total requirement. However Vermont experts estimate that the state has the capacity to ultimately generate from 134 to 175 megawatts of electricity from hydro power.
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.
In 2005, the inhabitants of the state used an average of 5,883 kilowatt hours of electricity per capita. Another source says that each household consumed 7,100 kilowatt-hours annually in 2008.
2008 peak demand in the state was 1,100 megawatts (MW).
Retail industry structure
Vermont does not allow customers to shop for competitive energy suppliers. 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.
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.
In 2009, the state had the highest energy rates for energy (including heating) in the US and the worst affordability gap nationwide.
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- Gresser, Joseph (November 5, 2008). VEC seeks a 9.2 percent rate hike. The Barton Chronicle.
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