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New Vermont utility chief looks to green energy

Green Mountain Power’s new chief executive wants more renewable energy sources for Vt. utility

Calling it a “once in a generation opportunity,” the incoming head of Green Mountain Power Corp. said Monday the utility wants to boost its portfolio of renewable energy sources and decrease its reliance on the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

Mary Powell, who takes over as chief executive on Friday, said the utility wants to increase the role of Hydro Quebec in Vermont’s energy future and push the state to establish “green zones” that put development of low-emission energy sources on the fast track.

Powell said the utility would seek state help and regulatory approval to develop the green zone concept, identifying over the next year the best places in the state for wind, methane, biomass and solar projects and then seeking to build the zones around them.

“The companies doing the development would have to show economic development benefits to the state,” said Powell, who also advocated the forging of a new relationship with the Province of Quebec and Hydro-Quebec.

Currently, Vermont utilities’ contracts with Vermont Yankee and Hydro Quebec expire in 2012 and 2015, respectively, although Vermont Yankee is seeking permission to remain open for another 20 years.

“We are pleased to see Ms. Powell and GMP taking the initiative with regard to Vermont’s long-term electric supply,” said David O’Brien, commissioner of the state Department of Public Service. “Today we are in an envious position of having the lowest rates in New England and the lowest carbon emissions in the country. I welcome GMP’s efforts to secure a continuation of our strong position, especially a focus on diversity.”

GMP is owned by the Quebec-based energy company Gaz Metro, and has about 94,000 customers in Vermont.

Associated Press

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28 July 2008