Vermont looks into possibility of buying hydropower facilities from TransCanada

The state of Vermont has formed a Vermont Hydropower Working Group to explore the possibilities of buying hydropower facilities on the Connecticut and Deerfield rivers.

Multiple news agencies have recently reported that TransCanada will sell 13 hydropower projects with a total capacity of 560 MW, which the company acquired in 2005 from USGen New England.

The hydro plants are:

  • In Vermont — 41-MW Harriman and 5-MW Searsburg
  • Between Vermont and New Hampshire — 49-MW Bellows Falls, 144-MW Comerford, 11-MW McIndoes, 192-MW Moore, 37-MW Vernon and 41-MW Wilder
  • In Massachusetts — 7-MW Deerfield No. 2, 7-MW Deerfield No. 3, 6-MW Deerfield No. 4, 14-MW Deerfield No. 5 and 6-MW Sherman

The seven-member working group is assessing the partial or full acquisition. The group will determine whether this acquisition us cost-effective and evaluate benefits to Vermont’s economy, utility ratepayers and clean energy portfolio, according to a release. The group will examine possible partnerships with other public or private sector entities and look at issues such as expected maintenance costs and licensing issues for the assets.

The group is chaired by Administration Secretary Justin Johnson. Members are Treasurer Beth Pearce; Michael Dworkin, director of the Energy Institute at the Vermont Law School; Liz Gamache, mayor of St. Albans and director of Efficiency Vermont; Linda McGinnis with the Energy Action Network; Tom Dunn, chief executive officer and president of Vermont Electric Power Company; and Vince Illuzzi, Essex County State’s Attorney.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the state of Vermont,” said House Speaker Shap Smith. “In a day and age when market fluctuations and the uncertainties of climate change have wreaked havoc on energy supplies and folks’ pocket books, locally produced power is a commodity worth exploring.”

This is not the first time the state has had an opportunity to purchase these assets, according to Governor Peter Shumlin. The last time was when TransCanada acquired them.

The working group is expected to provide recommendations to Shumlin, Smith and Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell in the coming weeks.

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