NEWS RELEASE — Vermont Electric Coop
Nov. 27, 2012
Liz Gamache: Cell Phone: 802-730-3424
Johnson – Vermont Electric Cooperative (VEC) announced that the Co-op will not seek a rate increase in January 2013. Despite rising transmission costs, the Co-op has been able to hold rates steady for the second year in a row. VEC has not had a rate increase since January of 2011 and over the four year period from 2010 to 2013 VEC’s average rate increase will be about 1 percent per year.
VEC reviews electric rates annually to determine whether adjustments are needed to cover costs. “Like most other Vermont and New England utilities, VEC faces challenges with regard to transmission and power supply costs, along with inflationary pressures in other areas,” said Dave Hallquist, CEO. “We have been able to offset rising costs through operational efficiencies and by obtaining favorable power supply contracts.”
VEC has also acted to control rates by restructuring debt to control interest expenses. By obtaining grant funding from the Department of Energy for smart grid deployment, VEC has improved system operational efficiencies. Funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to rebuild power lines in the Northeast Kingdom and disaster relief support from the Federal Emergency Management Administration in the wake of Hurricane Irene also helped to offset rising costs that would have otherwise resulted in higher electric rates. Additionally, a joint ownership agreement of transmission assets from Lowell to Jay has reduced VEC’s costs by sharing them with Green Mountain Power.
“We will continue to carefully manage costs within VEC’s control,” commented Hallquist. “One of our objectives is to provide realistic expectations around electric rates. We are pleased to announce to our members that we will not seek an increase at this time. However, we anticipate that rising transmission costs may make this difficult to repeat in 2014.” VEC’s next annual budget and rate review process is currently planned to begin in September 2013.
One of the main reasons for concern is that major infrastructure improvements to the New England electric grid are expected to continue to drive transmission costs upward. As part of the regional grid which is a shared resource, VEC is required to contribute, along with other distribution utilities, to the costs associated with operating and maintaining the area’s transmission system.
Nationally recognized for innovative and advanced use of technology, Vermont Electric Cooperative (VEC) is the largest locally owned electric distribution utility in Vermont, serving more than 32,000 Co-op members located in 74 towns in northern Vermont.