Special Report: Vermont smack in the middle of crucial electricity supply and demand

Aerial photo of a Hydro-Québec dam. Hydro-Québec photo

Aerial photo of a Hydro-Quebec dam. Hydro-Quebec photo

Southern New England is thirsty for more renewable power and Hydro-Québec is eager to quench that demand.

Meanwhile, developers see an opportunity to make money on the massive transmission line projects needed to carry Canadian hydropower several hundred miles through Maine, Vermont or New Hampshire to the Boston metropolitan area. Six, billion-plus dollar projects are on the table.

One of those projects, the New England Clean Power Link, would be in Vermont. TDI New England, a transmission line developer, wants to submerge a high-voltage line the length of Lake Champlain. Environmental groups warn the proposal could impact the health of Lake Champlain, an vital economic and ecological asset for the state.

Click thumbnail to view map.

Northeast Energy Link
Proposal: A 230-mile underground transmission line between eastern Canada and Orrington, Maine, to Tewksbury, Mass.
Cost: $2 billion
Size: 1,100 megawatts
Developer: Nova Scotia-based Emera and National Grid partnership.
Status: Applied to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for approval of its funding approach.
Champlain Hudson Power Express
Proposal: A 333-mile underground and submarine transmission line extending from the U.S./Canadian border to New York City.
Cost: $2.2 billion
Size: 1,000 megawatts
Developer: Blackstone doing business as Transmission Developers Inc.
Status: The New York Public Service Commission approved the plan last year. The company needs approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Department of Energy.
New England Clean Power Link
Proposal: A 150-mile underground and submarine transmission line between Canada, under Lake Champlain, to a Ludlow substation.
Cost: $1.2 billion
Size: 1,000 megawatts
Developer: Blackstone doing business as Transmission Developers Inc.
Status: Applied for permit from U.S. Department of Energy. Intends to apply for state approval in 2014.
Grand Isle Intertie
Proposal:A 40-mile transmission line between wind power in Plattsburgh, N.Y., under Lake Champlain, to Burlington.
Cost: Unknown
Size: Unknown
Developer: Anbaric Transmission
Status: Applied for interconnection application from ISO New England.

Green Line
The Green Line
Proposal:A 300-mile terrestrial and submarine transmission line connecting Aroostook County, Maine, to Boston.
Cost: Unknown
Size: 1,000 megawatts
Developer: New England Independent Transmission Co. LLC (NEITC), a partnership of Anbaric Transmission, Pittsfield, Maine-based Cianbro Companies and Fairfield, Conn.-based PowerBridge.
Status: Applied for interconnection application from ISO New England.

Northern Pass
Northern Pass
Proposal:A 187-mile above- and below-ground transmission line from Quebec, through northern New Hampshire, to Deerfield, N.H.
Cost: $1.4 billion
Size: 1,200 megawatts
Developer: Northeast Utilities doing business as Northern Pass Transmission LLC.
Status: Applied for permit from U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Interconnection application accepted by ISO New England.

The TDI proposal wouldn’t bring a watt of power to Vermont electricity customers, but make no mistake, the state wants projects like these to pass through Vermont.

“I think we would stand to benefit more from having a project hosted by the state of Vermont than having it go through another state,” said Department of Public Service Commissioner Chris Recchia, who is Gov. Peter Shumlin’s point person on the issue.

That’s because all six states that draw from New England’s power grid have agreed to share the costs of transmission projects. The new lines would carry up to 3,600 megawatts of renewable power needed for the region to meet its electricity demands and greenhouse gas reduction goals.

Electricity price spikes, the closing of large power plants in the region (such as Vermont Yankee) and a search for more renewable energy are among the region’s energy challenges. That’s why the region’s six governors in 2013 launched a regional energy infrastructure initiative to attract the investments needed to solve these urgent problems.

This marks a critical juncture in the region’s electricity marketplace: Everyone in the energy industry stands to win or lose as elected officials bet billions of dollars on what’s best for the region’s energy future.

As part of this rare moment in the region’s history, all six New England governors are willing to put ratepayers’ dollars on the line hoping to secure lower electricity prices for the entire region through this massive energy infrastructure initiative.

How much Vermont has to pay will be determined when the newly created New England States Committee on Electricity launches a competitive bidding process for projects this fall. The committee will decide how to split the costs of the projects. Plans must be approved by federal energy regulators and it’s likely none would be online before the latter part of the decade.

VELCO says projects grossly underestimated

Developers are pitching plans, and are now offering states handsome “benefits packages” in seeking their support. In addition, states could earn millions from new property or infrastructure taxes, the leasing of existing right-of-ways and financial returns on public investment in the lines.

But these assurances aren’t enough, according to Kerrick Johnson, vice president of Vermont Electric Power Co., or VELCO.

VELCO, the state’s transmission utility, is looking for any way the state can take advantage of the new proposals. But so far, he says, the plans offer no certain benefit to the state or the region.

“Unfortunately, we don’t think the analyses conducted to date justify the speed at which this is being pursued,” Johnson said of the six-state initiative. He said more time is needed to better understand the multibillion-dollar proposals despite political pressures to move them forward as soon as possible.

“Spend the time in advance,” Johnson said. “Measure twice. Get this right. If you’re talking about speed, that’s the best way to ensure an expeditious energizing of a line.”

Johnson says developers have underestimated the costs for the projects by 80 percent, and as a result, the region’s electric ratepayers could pay hundreds of millions more for the projects. (VELCO uses the same cost assessment method as the region’s grid operator, ISO New England.)

VELCO, however, does not oppose the development of new transmission lines in the region, Johnson said. The utility will work with states, project developers and utilities, he said, but VELCO wants more questions answered before it lends support to projects.

Johnson did not rule out public investment in the lines should the plans prove to be economically viable.

Powerful demand

Electricity prices reached record highs last winter due to the region’s inability to supply enough natural gas to power generators, driving the price of natural gas above the cost of burning coal. Natural gas accounts for more than half of the region’s total electricity generation, according to ISO New England.

“The region spent an extra $3 billion – with a B – on power costs,” Recchia said of last winter’s price spikes. “As bad as it was this year, it’s projected to get worse next year. And there is no end in sight to change what’s going on.”

In order to keep the lights on, the region needs to find power quickly. The scheduled closure of several aging power plants in the region is making matters more urgent.

The Massachusetts coal-powered Salem Harbor plant and the Vermont Yankee nuclear power will close this year. And the Massachusetts fossil fuel-fired power plant Brayton Point is scheduled to close in 2017. ISO New England estimates about 8,300 megawatts of generation to go offline by 2020, about a quarter of the region’s total energy needs.

Northern Pass is one of the projects seeking to deliver hydropower to the metropolitan south. The $1.4 billion privately funded plan would run mostly through New Hampshire (see sidebar).

Northern Pass spokeswoman Lauren Collins says no one transmission line will be able to fill this void.

“Northern Pass is part of the solution, but it’s not the only solution. The fact is we are going to need a bunch of them,” Collins said. “We have to start filling this pool of power up somehow and these things take years to get built.”

VELCO vice president Kerrick Johnson testified before the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee on Friday to discuss regional transmission development. Photo by John Herrick/VTDigger

VELCO vice president Kerrick Johnson testified before the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee in April. Photo by John Herrick/VTDigger

Renewable power, especially electricity from massive hydropower plants in Canada, is the solution most energy experts and government officials are choosing.

The lynchpin is a legislative proposal in Massachusetts that would require state utilities to purchase hydropower. The Bay State is drafting legislation backed by Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick to rapidly advance the state’s renewable energy goals. The law would require the state’s utilities to lock in 20-plus year contracts to purchase about 2,400 megawatts of renewable energy – enough to power more than one million homes.

“Without these transmission lines, it would be very difficult to meet our global warming solutions goals,” said Barbara Kates-Garnick, Massachusetts’ undersecretary of energy and environmental affairs.

Transmission developers have been eager to help the region import abundant supplies of Canadian hydropower into the region for years. And now, the region’s grid operator and elected officials agree that the power is urgently needed.

“It’s rare. It’s very, very encouraging from a developers’ perspective to see the marketplace speaking so strongly in one voice,” transmission line developer Don Jessome said.

Jessome, president and CEO of TDI New England, is leading one of the most advanced proposals on the table. He wants to bury a 150-mile transmission line under Lake Champlain. TDI, a subsidiary of Blackstone Group, a financial services firm, has lined up private capital for the estimated $1.2 billion project.

Related story

TDI proposal.

Jessome says the merchant transmission project could cut the region’s electricity rates by $200 million a year for 10 years (and up to $10 million for Vermont utility customers); raise tens of millions in property tax benefits on the transmission line and a $200 million converter station in Ludlow; and create hundreds of jobs to build the project and new hires through company savings on electricity.

TDI says it would also donate tens of millions of dollars to the state for costly Lake Champlain cleanup – or whatever the state decides is best.

“We can offer something very competitive not only to Vermont but the broader New England market,” Jessome said.

Northeast Utilities, the developer of the Hydro-Quebec funded Northern Pass proposal in New Hampshire, is offering a similar benefits package to buy the state’s support, including a $7.5 million trust fund to support jobs in the Granite State’s north country. Though the overhead transmission line known as the Northern Pass, which would cut through national forests, has been controversial, it has advanced further than other projects in the region.

High-tension power lines cut through New Hampshire. Photo by John Herrick/VTDigger

High-tension power lines cut through New Hampshire. Photo by John Herrick/VTDigger

State buy-in

Rep. Tony Klein, D-East Montpelier, who chairs the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee, wants to see the state reap rewards for becoming a pass-through for power.

“If Vermont is going to be a highway for power to the south from the north, then Vermont needs to benefit from it handsomely,” said Klein.

He said the state could make tens of millions of dollars if VELCO invested in the lines.

“If you invest in it, your return on your investment could be almost endless,” Klein said.

Through the initiative, Vermont would also be on the hook to pay for at least some of the costs.

TDI New England is meeting with potential state partners about purchasing a share in the line. The most likely investor would be VELCO. And state regulators require that any profits earned through these investments go back to Vermont’s utility customers.

“Blackstone is going to support this project,” Jessome said. But he said the company “would be interested in talking to parties in Vermont, in particular, who would be interested in being an investor” in the project.

“We have the capital now to build this project,” he said. “But having said that, we have always looked for local partners to help get projects across the finish line.”

After any project is selected, Commissioner Recchia said the state can also place conditions on the developers’ permit that will ensure the project serves the public good.

“The state participating in the regional process is not relinquishing or changing any of our siting authorities for projects in state,” he said.

Canadian hydro’s impact on small-scale renewables

With hydropower imports being the chief focus of the region’s future energy supply, advocates for small-scale renewable generation are concerned Canadian power will flood regional markets.

“We want to make sure that imports of a significant amount from Canada that the public is being asked to help subsidize are not undermining efforts to build out more renewable supply in the region,” said Sandra Levine, a senior attorney for the Conservation Law Foundation.

John Bennett, executive director of the Sierra Club Canada, opposed industrial-scale hydropower and has been publicly seeking to stop the Northern Pass project.

Bennett said building out this transmission corridor only “undermines” the world’s energy future and “hooks people to the past.”

“Power should be generated close to where it’s being used,” he said. “Usually that’s more cost effective to the local community than bringing in electricity from the outside. We would really think that New England should be figuring out how to meet its own energy needs.”

Department of Public Service Commissioner Chris Recchia testifies at a joint meeting on electric generation plants at the Statehouse Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013. Photo by Andrew Stein/VTDigger

Department of Public Service Commissioner Chris Recchia testifies at a joint meeting on electric generation plants at the Statehouse in September 2013. Photo by Andrew Stein/VTDigger

Rooftop solar, distributed energy, smart grid infrastructure and energy efficiency are better energy investments that support local economies and reduce environmental destruction, he said.

“Is this power actually needed or are there better ways to meet our energy needs?” Bennett said. “There are better ways to produce the power closer to where it’s being used.”

Recchia said importing hydropower will not undermine renewable energy development in Vermont. Instead, he said hydropower will fill in for old generating stations set to go offline in the coming years.

“I have never seen these as being competitive in that way,” Recchia said.

Environmental push-back

Hydroelectric power relies on dams to build up the force of moving water, generating the world’s largest source of renewable energy. But environmentalists say while this energy is renewable, it should not be considered clean.

Damming rivers disrupts local fish migration patterns and saturates upstream reservoirs with mercury levels poisonous to aquatic life, floods large swaths of land previously home to carbon-absorbing forests and indigenous populations and threatens downstream aquatic habitats.

“They fundamentally alter the ecosystem,” said Bennett, of the Sierra Club Canada. He said dams in Quebec, sometimes turning rivers into reservoirs larger than Lake Champlain, cause massive environmental damage.

Gary Sutherland, a spokesman for Hydro-Québec, said the company operates 61 generating stations, the vast majority of which are hydro powered. The company is in the process of building four new hydroelectric generation stations, one of which will come online this year.

Sutherland said the company has implemented business practices designed to minimize adverse environmental impacts. This includes using one reservoir to feed multiple generators, he said.

Hydro-Québec’s power cut 16 million metric tons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere in 2012, Sutherland said.

Market push-back

The initiative also calls for an expansion of natural gas infrastructure. And it would require electric ratepayers to help pay for long-term contracts with natural gas providers, a unique financing model designed to level spot-market price spikes and attract infrastructure investments.

Some natural gas companies would like power plant owners to lock in contracts. But power plant owners enjoy low prices on the spot market nine months out of the year under the current model.

A trade group representing power plant owners is opposing the market change they say will “undercut the highly competitive marketplace” for natural gas. The New England Power Generators Association said this year in a statement: “As a radical new concept, the proposal could face tremendous legal, regulatory and cost sharing hurdles.”

The proposal is a key component to the overall six-state pact. Nonetheless, it comes as no surprise that some power plant owners would view the proposal as a potential for litigation.

“It’s definitely a new animal that could be challenged in a variety of ways,” Recchia said.

Environmental, economic, legal and regulatory concerns will pose the greatest hurdles as southern states pressure the region to adopt an unprecedented energy policy.

And despite mounting momentum to find a solution to the region’s urgent energy needs, if any project is not in any state’s interest, states can simply call it off.

“We are all reserving our right to walk away from this,” Recchia said.

John Herrick

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54 Comments on "Special Report: Vermont smack in the middle of crucial electricity supply and demand"


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Deb Tyson
2 years 7 months ago

For starters you MUST SAY NO TO Blackstone. If you chose this route you will surely regret this decision. What looks good , is not always what it seems and will cost the people more down the road.
Secondly seems to me it would of made alot more sense to invest in the upkeep and rebuilding of a safer VY.
Remember the grass is not always greener on the other side as you are slowly seeing.

Paul Richards
2 years 7 months ago

Whoops! We closed down our generating plants, we are being blocked from plastering the mountains and valleys with wind generators and solar panels, we are pushing electric cars and it looks like we will not be able to run our toasters soon. Oh, and we are not sure how we are going to fix this but we need more of your tax dollars to do whatever it is we are going to do. Sounds like a typical government plan. Looks like our neighboring country to the North has found a way to capitalize on our stupidity.

2 years 7 months ago
Kerrick Johnson, Velco VP states: “ Unfortunately, we don’t think the analyses conducted to date justify the speed at which this is being pursued”. Oh boy does that ring some sort of a bell on past behavior or what? Mr. Johnson has got it right in questioning proper analyses. I think of it in the parlance of Yogi Berra’s “déjà vu all over again” or Vermont dives head first into an empty swimming pool of industrial renewable energy policy. Look at the mess we have as a result of eschewing careful analyses and rushing headlong into mountain top development of… Read more »
John Greenberg
2 years 7 months ago

Peter, what does ““We are all reserving our right to walk away from this,” Recchia said.” mean to you?

2 years 7 months ago
John: I have no idea of what Commissioner Recchia means. As we have all previously witnessed, it’s not what the Shumlin administration says that’s important, it’s what they do or don’t do. So before guessing what the Commissioner means in regard to matters requiring objective analysis, you may want to ask him for the comprehensive cost/benefit analysis that the state has done relating to the use of industrial wind and solar. You’ll remember the comprehensive cost/benefit that you repeatedly insisted the state had done before beginning to cover our mountains with industrial wind turbines and roadways with industrial solar panels.… Read more »
John Greenberg
2 years 7 months ago
Peter, First, Recchia’s meaning is actually pretty clear: he’s saying that he’s not wedded to these transmission projects, is willing to investigate them, and is willing to pull out if they don’t seem right for Vermont. That seems pretty clear to me, and also pretty sane, since so much is unknown at present. You’ve never defined what you mean by “comprehensive cost/benefit analysis,” but depending on your definition, either it HAS already been done for energy (repeatedly) or it probably hasn’t been done for much of anything. If you’re looking for a mathematically precise document, you’re right, it doesn’t exist.… Read more »
2 years 7 months ago


As expected, a lot of words but no answer.

It reminds me of the old saying:

Ask someone the time and he tells you how to build a clock.

Again, you have delivered a clock and as usual it doesn’t tell the time.

David Dempsey
2 years 7 months ago

I agree completely with Peter. I think that if the PSB issues a certificate of public good, shouldn’t they be able to give the public the details of why it is for the public good It is a simple question that deserves a strightforward answer, not the 17 paragraph diatribe in your reply to Peter that left me dazed and confused.

John Greenberg
2 years 7 months ago

You’ve used that before.
I DID answer you: in considerable detail. Now try responding to the actual points I raised.

Start here. Please tell us what you mean by “comprehensive cost/benefit analysis.”

John Greenberg
2 years 7 months ago
David Dempsey, Peter wasn’t talking about the PSB, so nor was I for the most part. There is, indeed, a simple answer to your question. Whenever the PSB issues a permit, it DOES provide “the details of why it is for the public good.” In every Board order I’ve seen, the order begins with the history of the case (recounted in detail) and the positions of each of the parties. It then explains each element of its decision and the legal and factual reasons that it reached the decision it did in considerable detail. It then grants or denies the… Read more »
Justin Turco
2 years 7 months ago
VY created 600 full-time jobs; solar has created about twice that in Vermont, at FAR lower levels of energy production. I’m a ratepayer in this state. So creating lots of jobs and not creating much power really doesn’t excite me. That drives the cost per unit up. Creating lots of jobs and making power that can be COUNTED ON when needed. I’d go for that. Might even be able to swallow being a neighbor to that power. Not joyfully mind you. I read your post. And Ah…I’d still like to see the studies and numbers which show why it is… Read more »
2 years 7 months ago
John: Your plea for a definition of what would be included in a cost/benefit analysis for wind and solar at this point is absolutely disingenuous at best. We have debated the lack of any comprehensive state conducted cost/benefit analysis relating to wind and solar development over the past several months. You have repeatedly told me such a study had already been done, but I was too lazy, or something to that effect, to find it. As part of those discussions references were made to S.30, a bill filed last year that called for and included a definition of what such… Read more »
John Greenberg
2 years 7 months ago
Peter, Thanks for the text for S30. The bill sat on my computer desktop for a while, but I never got around to reading it. Then when it became clear that it wasn’t going anywhere anyway, I filed it away unread. So no, I had not read this language previously. Reading it now, I wonder if the drafters provided the millions dollars in research funding that would have been required to carry out all their demands (more precisely, to do so in anything but the most slipshod fashion), but I’m guessing they probably didn’t. My earlier comment of June 10… Read more »
David Dempsey
2 years 7 months ago
John, You clearly know a lot more about the PSB than I do. Before you told me exactly how little I know about the CPG process, you said that Peter wasn’t talking about the PSB. When Peter wrote “I personally spoke with him (Commissioner Recchia) on this matter and he could not identify any comprehensive cost/benefit analysis for wind or solar usage” I took that to be a reference to the PSB and that they would do a cost/benefit analysis when making their decisions. I got your message, I’m not smart enough to reply to your posts.
John Greenberg
2 years 7 months ago

David Dempsey,

Mr. Recchia is the commissioner of the Department of Pubic Service, which is part of the Shumlin administration. He is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the governor, as I already explained above.

He is NOT part of the PSB, which, again as noted above, is an independent, quasi-judicial agency.

John McClaughry
2 years 7 months ago

“Nuclear jobs have a relatively low multiplier effect, because nuclear components and even hardware cannot be purchased locally (for the most part).”
Yes, that’s true. But where are the solar PV panels coming from?

John Greenberg
2 years 7 months ago


Solar panels are not currently produced in VT, but I was referring not to the panels but to everything else: wires, all the hardware, conduit, etc. For a nuclear plant, most of this stuff must be nuclear certified; for solar, it can be (and no doubt is) purchased locally for the most part.

Lance Hagen
2 years 7 months ago

I hadn’t been following the comments to this article until this morning.

I see Mr. Greenberg has invoked his usual ‘too complex to figure out’ with his statement on a cost/benefit analysis, “as I’ve explained elsewhere in these columns, it can’t exist except as deceptive fiction: there are too many assumptions and too many unknowns to make such a document possible”.

This is his customary ploy when he cannot produce numbers to support his arguments!

John Greenberg
2 years 7 months ago
Lance, I’m still waiting for the sourced and documented numbers on Price- Anderson. This is my third (or fourth) request. Apparently, YOUR standard ploy is to insist it’s possible to put valid numbers on these things, but never produce any. I would remind you that your first set of numbers you offered on subsidies — months ago – came from EIA with an explicit disclaimer about Price-Anderson and a general disclaimer about ALL sorts of other numbers not being included, all of which you conveniently chose to ignore. It’s pretty easy to come up with bogus and misleading numbers for… Read more »
2 years 7 months ago
A couple of points and a perspective from Maine: o The arguments against an underwater conduit in Lake Champlain also apply to underwater conduits to offshore wind platforms. o You already have a North South right of way in the Interstate highways. Running conduit down them is not only ‘cheap’ by comparison; but enables inexpensive electric vehicle recharging stations and potentially electric powered monorail transport. o When you say “Damming rivers disrupts local fish migration patterns and saturates upstream reservoirs with mercury levels poisonous to aquatic life, floods large swaths of land previously home to carbon-absorbing forests and indigenous populations… Read more »
David Dempsey
2 years 7 months ago
John, You are absolutely right. I was way wrong associating Mr. Recchi with the PSB, and I do know that the DPS people are appointed by the governor. But I still contend that both the DPS and PSB need to explain to the less informed Vermonters, like myself, why they decide that the public will benefit from projects. That is why they exist. Just because you know more than the average working Vermonter about the way they work, as you like to point out in your posts, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be kept in the loop, with clear, easy… Read more »
Richard Ratico
2 years 7 months ago


As John Greenberg has ALREADY informed you, the PSB does explain it’s decisions, as public record, in great detail. All you have to do is take the time to read them.

2 years 7 months ago
An individual project evaluation made by the PSB amounts to a review of tactics. It does not amount to a strategic evaluation. The state’s strategy for renewable energy has never been evaluated at the comprehensive cost vs benefit level, which is what I have been saying. This is stunning in light of the billions of dollars involved and the overall impact energy policy has on the people and environment. To further complicate matters, over time the primary justification for renewables seems to have morphed from a need for energy independence and cost to a need to meet the dangers of… Read more »
David Dempsey
2 years 7 months ago
Richard, FYI, I ALREADY know that you can read the PSB decisions and I have read several PSB decisions on issues that interest me. You can make me look stupid, I don’t mind. But my point is that the majority of Vermonters don’t know what the PSB does let alone know how to read a report that explains their decisions. That’s all I’m saying. Your comment that the PSB decisions are public records is true, but do you really think that the average working Vermonter is being informed sufficiently. If you do, you don’t know much about Vermonters.
Richard Ratico
2 years 7 months ago
David, Hard working people everywhere, not only Vermonters, are challenged to find the time to keep abreast of all the issues that affect them. Many who have the time would rather spend it watching TV. As has been pointed out to you, the PSB is composed of members appointed by various administrations, in an attempt to keep their decisions as politically impartial as possible. Long before their decisions are reached, public hearings are held. These are announced in advance so interested parties can attend. The PSB’s job is to represent the OVERALL interests of Vermonters. Like all government in this… Read more »
John Greenberg
2 years 7 months ago
Peter, You raise various points, which I’ll try to answer: 1) “An individual project evaluation made by the PSB amounts to a review of tactics. It does not amount to a strategic evaluation.” If, by that, you mean that the PSB functions within parameters set by the legislature, that’s correct. However, the parameters the legislature sets are VERY broad, and do not require the level of detail that the kind of “cost/benefit analysis” you’re calling for would entail. The PSB, on the other hand, takes a very detailed look at the specific parameters of each project it considers, and produces… Read more »
David Dempsey
2 years 7 months ago
Richard, I guess you consider me to be a complete moron. You assume that I don’t know anything about the members of the PSB and who appointed them, or what their purpose is. I’m sure it will surprise you to know that I actually know these things and none of my comments have been about who the members are or that they look out for the best interests of Vermonters. I could care less about the politics of the governors who appointed them. I do know that Governor Shumlin has appointed only one member of the board, Margaret Cheney, and… Read more »
2 years 7 months ago
John: WOW…..4.25 pages, single placed using #12 size font and we get a paper based on an array of bad assumptions. I actually printed your comments out to see what it would look like in hard copy on standard size paper. Your response has to be a vtdigger record for length. As for your assumptions, the worst is presented in your last paragraph where you say: “Finally, it’s at least ironic that someone who disbelieves the evidence that the overwhelming majority of the scientific community accepts concerning climate change….” John, you’re absolutely death wrong with this statement. You’re equally wrong… Read more »
John Greenberg
2 years 7 months ago
Peter, 1) You write “You’re equally wrong with other assumptions made through the paper,” but provide no specifics. Obviously, I can’t answer a charge like that without having even a clue what you’re talking about. The only specific “assumption” you challenge is the implication in my paragraph that you don’t believe in anthropogenic global warming, which came from reading your statements about the issue elsewhere in Vermont Digger. If you’d really like me to dig through your various remarks to find those which certainly APPEAR to imply the opposite, I can do so. You now say you DO believe in… Read more »
Kathy Leonard
2 years 7 months ago
This is a well-put together, informative piece. Our state and national conversations about energy are all be about increasing sources of supply – and rarely, if ever about reducing demand. This holds true for this article as well. Does anyone really think we can solve our climate change problems with new and more technologies while not seriously altering our economy and how we live on this planet? I would invite VTDigger and others to look at this other side of the equation on these pages. George Plumb is the only one I can think of who has his eye on… Read more »
2 years 7 months ago

Tesla et al discovered grids are totally unnecessary. When are we going to wake up?

2 years 7 months ago
It is about time people are waking up to the fact nuclear and coal plants will be shutting down in New England. Where is all that base-loaded energy going to come from? Building out renewable energy systems would take too long in New England and it would be too expensive, and it cause enormous environmental damage to pristine ridge lines . It is best to build out transmission to bring about 3 to 4 thousand MW of excess hydro capacity from Quebec, New Brunswick and Labrador to New England. Note that private investors are already proposing exactly such transmission from… Read more »
2 years 7 months ago

The rising cost of maintaining underwater conduit to off shore wind platforms is alarming government energy planners in Germany and elsewhere, and is one of the factors forcing consolidation off shore wind farms.

2 years 7 months ago


You are comparing apples and oranges.

Gathering energy from hundreds of spread-out offshore wind turbines is indeed expensive, but this article talks about point to point transmission,

Look at the examples in my comment.

The HVDC line between the Netherlands and Norway has bee a great success. A second line, parallel to it, is planned.

Maurice Diette
2 years 7 months ago

In the event the power is simply a pass-through to other southern New England states, how do we in Vermont get paid for the transmission that benefits others?

2 years 7 months ago


There are what is called transit fees.

VELCO would be collecting them.

Wayne Andrews
2 years 7 months ago

I say “Hogwash” to all these comments. We need to be self sustaining in this country and not solely rely on other countries be it Canada or another.
Keep the windmills coming, hydro stateside and put those rods back into play.

2 years 7 months ago

When are we going to wake up?

Jeff Noordsy
2 years 7 months ago

Mr. Andrews, I hope you are sitting down. I am about to sell you a secret and I don’t want you to be alarmed. That natural gas project you are constantly defending? The gas passing through those pipes will be imported from Canada, increasing our dependence upon FOREIGN energy sources and reducing our ability to create self sustainable energy. Perhaps it’s time to rethink your position.

Vanessa Mills
2 years 7 months ago

Further point to add to Mr. Noordsy’s suggestion for Mr. Andrews: Green Mountain Power (The developer for Kingdom “Community” Wind a.k.a the Lowell Project) is owned by Gaz Metro. Connect the dots from there to Enbridge, etc. Also, Vermont Gas Systems is owned by Gaz Metro. Gaz Metro is Canadian, Mr. Andrews.

2 years 7 months ago


The US will be energy independent in a few years, as cars become more efficient and gas production increases. It does not depend on the little gas imported from Canada.

I hope the US is not so stupid as to export the gas for geo-political reasons, as it would raise gas prices in the US.

Jeff Noordsy
2 years 7 months ago

The current government (yes, that equals YOU both Democrats and Republicans) is EXACTLY that stupid. Thank you for helping me make my point Willem.

Hattie Nestel
2 years 7 months ago

Thank goodness for some rational, logical, well thought through statements from both John Bennett and Kathy Leonard!!!
Wow, how can the herd get so far out there with dangerous, costly and ultimately both environmental and economic disasters which, as always, taxpayers, now and in decades to come will bare the burden. Surely, this is how we got stuck with VY !
What will it take us not to destroy indigenous lands in Canada any further, not to destroy Lake Champlain, and not go forward with what we neither need nor will benefit from.
Hattie Nestel

2 years 7 months ago

While the earths inhabitants are committing planticide,
is it rational and prudent to ignore compelling credible evidence of ET technology, witnessed by, arguably, people who’s judgment and soundness of mind is among the most scrutinized on the planet, namely military personnel, including nuclear launch officers and personnel securing thermonuclear ICBMs?
If you are really concerned for earth`s future, really show it. Discern information on my link. Some of us need to step away from our ego attachments.

Maren Vasatka
2 years 7 months ago
I find it ironic that Kerrick Johnson thinks we need to slow down and analyze this project “measure twice and get this right” while his affiliate Vermont Gas wants to cram this pipeline in before anyone can blink. Chris Recchia seems to want to sell everyone’s land, easements etc for the Vermont coffers which no one can control. This just gives the state a blank check to spend on education and healthcare instead of creating a system that we can afford. Well I know Recchia and Shumlin are NIMBY’s because none of this is in their back yard but they… Read more »
Vanessa Mills
2 years 7 months ago

“Chris Recchia seems to want to sell everyone’s land, easements etc for the Vermont coffers which no one can control. This just gives the state a blank check to spend on education and healthcare instead of creating a system that we can afford. Well I know Recchia and Shumlin are NIMBY’s because none of this is in their back yard but they are more than willing to sell ours.”

YES, indeed, Maren Vasatka. Folks are catching on.

Steve Comeau
2 years 7 months ago
Very informative article. “ISO New England estimates about 8,300 megawatts of generation to go offline by 2020, about a quarter of the region’s total energy needs.” That amount is more than 10 times the production of Vermont Yankee. Perhaps that is why the word “massive” is used four times in this article. The electricity needed to replace the plants going offline will need to come from somewhere. It will be interesting to see how this evolves, but I would be very surprised if none of these transmission lines are built. The need is too great and there are billions of… Read more »
2 years 7 months ago

The use of the natural resources of VT should be decided, owned and controlled by the communities that are stakeholders. The decisions should not be made by largely unaccountable service boards, high and mighty officials, corporate heads or ‘the market’.

I would guess there would have been little opposition to VT wind farms if they had been actual community projects rather than corporate projects forced upon our communities by bullying tactics. This might be true about power lines as well.

Don Peterson
2 years 7 months ago

Resisting the passage of these mega projects helps to foster the development of just in time energy, that is generated where it is needed, with minimal transmission losses.

Resources spent on large transmission projects should be directed towards research for on site storage of solar power– after all, three billion years of plant evolution solved the problem of what to do about sunsets, so why cant we?

Mike DiCenso
2 years 7 months ago

The human race would survive without any of these energy choices. I notice nobody has suggested a CO2 study of the emissions in China where the rare earth metals are mined and processed. Doesn’t their ecosystem count?Climate change from heavy industry will not be lessened by increasing heavy industry.

walter moses
2 years 7 months ago

Now I want to build some industrial windmills that are really ugly and I need a name for this project. The Really Gross and Wasteful Windmill Project? No, sounds as bad as it will look.. I got it! It will be a FARM! Yeah, a WIND FARM. Boy that sounds terrific! Everybody loves FARMS! Now, what about my solar project…….

2 years 7 months ago

My perception precisely.
And Oxford allows you to develop an atom splitting farm.

2 years 7 months ago
Hydro-Québec is prepared to help New England meet its energy needs. Hydro-Québec wishes to rectify several statements made in the VT Digger special report titled “Vermont smack in the middle of crucial electricity supply and demand.” Hydro-Québec believes that increasing deliveries of Québec hydropower into the New England market can help the region to meet its energy challenges. These challenges are significant and include the need to increase the fuel diversity of the electricity sector, replace retiring capacity, develop flexible resources to integrate increasing levels of intermittent supply, and meet stringent requirements to decarbonize the electricity sector by using more… Read more »
2 years 7 months ago
Gary, A nice summary, that should shut up a lot of people, if only they read and understood it. “Some countries that are large producers of wind power, like Germany, turn to fossil fuel sources to provide baseload energy.” Germany is now producing so much RE that for years it has had to export excess energy to nearby countries for many hours of the year, and the energy quantities, MWh, and hours are increasing, as more RE is generated. These energy exports are often sold at minimal prices, or even NEGATIVE prices, after Germany has paid about 20 eurocent/kWh for… Read more »
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