VEC Seeks Power from Seabrook

NEWPORT-Vermont Electric Cooperative (VEC) is seeking to buy power from a New Hampshire nuclear power plant. The Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) held a hearing Tuesday evening over Vermont Interactive Television on the proposal, but no one from the general public attended. The sites open for participation were Newport, Johnson, St. Albans, and Williston. The Newport site is located at the Career Center at North Country High School.VEC officials were on hand but did not comment. The hearing was delayed for about 10 minutes to provide extra time for anyone from the public to show up, but to no avail.The hearing was based on a proposed contact between VEC and Nextera Energy Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant. The VEC board of directors voted in the spring of 2011 not to renew a contract with Entergy, Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant’s parent company. The 40-year-old Vernon reactor has been in the news a number of times for problems.The current contract between Yankee and VEC for 10 Mega Watts of power ends in March. Yankee has supplied VEC with approximately 16 percent of its power needs.The state Legislature has decided not to allow Entergy to seek a new operating permit in Vermont. Yankee's commission to operate is scheduled to expire in March of this year, but Entergy and the State of Vermont are involved in a federal lawsuit over attempts to keep the plant open and operating. At issue is who has jurisdiction, the Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission or the state, to commission or decommission the plant, and if the state had the right to intervene.The PSB will make a decision on the proposed contract with Seabrook for 10 megawatts of power. The public may send written comments to the board on the issue.The rate in the contract is not public at this time, said Elizabeth Gamache, manager of corporate communications for VEC. But VEC officials feel the rate is favorable. Under the 20-year contract, which would begin in 2015, the rate would increase every year. But knowing the rate of increase helps VEC plan their energy portfolio, Gamache explained.VEC members will have the final say on the contract.Gamache said the hope is for PSB approval in time to allow for members to vote on the contract in May at the co-op’s annual meeting.Energy prices are predicted to rise. VEC did not seek a rate increase for this year. However, rates are expected to go up throughout New England in the near future due to transmission costs.