YCQM: May 5, 2013 - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

YCQM: May 5, 2013

Posted: Updated:
BURLINGTON, Vt. -

FROM VERMONT'S MOST TRUSTED NEWS SOURCE, WCAX BRINGS YOU YOUR NEWSMAKERS, YOUR NEIGHBORS. THIS IS "YOU CAN QUOTE ME."

>>> GOOD MORNING, EVERYONE. I'M KRISTEN CARLSON, AND WE'RE TALKING ENERGY ISSUES TODAY WITH OUR NEWSMAKER, CHRIS RECCHIA. HE IS VERMONT'S PUBLIC SERVICE DEPARTMENT COMMISSIONER. MR. RECCHIA, THANKS FOR BEING HERE.

>> THANKS, KRISTEN. THANKS, DARREN.

>> JOINING THE CONVERSATION IS DARREN PERRON.

>> COMMISSIONER, THANK YOU AGAIN FOR BEING HERE. LET'S START WITH WIND POWER AND DEVELOPMENT HERE IN VERMONT. NOW, AFTER SIX MONTHS OF MEETINGS AND DELIBERATIONS, THE GOVERNOR'S ENERGY GENERATION SITING COMMISSION RELEASE ITS MUCH-ANTICIPATED REPORT ON ELECTRIC POWER DEVELOPMENT. HERE'S ALEXIA RUBENSTEIN.

>> FROM FIELD TRIPS TO MAJOR WIND PROJECTS TO DOZENS OF PUBLIC MEETINGS, THE FIVE-MEMBER COMMISSION WAS TASKED BY GOVERNOR SHUMLIN LAST FALL TO COME UP WITH ASSESSING BEST PRACTICES FOR SITING PROJECTS, AND IN LARGE PART, ADDRESS VOCAL OPPOSITION TO RIDGELINE WIND PROJECTS LIKE THOSE AT LOWELL MOUNTAIN LAST SUMMER.

>> WE WERE GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE A COMMISSION TAKE A FRESH LOOK AT THE WHOLE PROCESS.

>> THE CORE RECOMMENDATIONS IN THE REPORT INCLUDE LOCAL AND REGIONAL PLANNING PARTICIPATION FOR PROJECTS, SIMPLIFYING AND EXPEDITING THE PERMITTING PROCESS, MORE PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT, INCREASED TRANSPARENCY AND UPDATING ENVIRONMENTAL AND HEALTH EFFECTS. VERMONT PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSIONER CHRIS RECCHIA SAYS ONE OF THE KEY COMPONENTS IS THE IMPROVED OPPORTUNITY FOR PUBLIC INPUT BEFORE A PROJECT EVEN GETS TO THE PUBLIC SERVICE BOARD.

>> THE PUBLIC WILL BE ENGAGED THE WAY THEY NEED TO BE IN ANY TOWN MEETING OR ANY PUBLIC SETTING WHERE THEY'RE ABLE TO PROVIDE COMMENT AND THOUGHT AND NOT HAVE TO PROVIDE EVIDENCE OR BE CROSS-EXAMINED AND ALL THE THINGS THAT A COURT STRUCTURE REQUIRES, WHICH IS REALLY WHAT THE PUBLIC SERVICE BOARD IS.

>> BUT FOR SOME OPPONENTS THAT HAD PUSHED FOR WIND MORATORIUM AND AT THE LEAST HOPED THE REPORT WOULD RECOMMEND PUBLIC FUNDING TO HELP INTERVENORS FIGHT PROJECTS, THE COMMISSION'S FINDINGS FALL FAR SHORT. LEGISLATIVE EFFORTS TO ADDRESS WIND CONCERNS LARGELY STALLED OUT AT THE STATE HOUSE THIS SESSION. WITH NO NEW IMMEDIATE PROJECTS BEFORE THE PUBLIC SERVICE BOARD, LAWMAKERS WILL BE ABLE TO HAVE SOME BREATHING ROOM TO COME BACK NEXT SESSION AND ADDRESS THE COMMISSION'S RECOMMENDATIONS.

>> SO COMMISSIONER, PUBLIC INPUT CLEARLY IS GOING TO BE PART OF THESE RECOMMENDATIONS. HOW WILL THAT GO FORWARD? WHAT ARE WE GOING TO SEE NOW?

>> WELL, I THINK ONE OF THE THINGS THE COMMISSION SAW IN THIS, AND HE SUMMARIZED IT REALLY WELL, THE PROCESS OF THE PUBLIC SERVICE BOARD ITSELF IS A VERY HIS TIG GUS PROCESS. IT'S LIKE A COURT, IT'S QUASI JUDICIAL AND PEOPLE HAVE TO GET A LAWYER AND THEY HAVE TO FOLLOW RULES OF PROCEDURE AND THERE ARE A VARIETY OF THINGS LIKE THAT, WHICH MAKE IT RELATIVELY UNFRIENDLY FOR THE PUBLIC, BUT WHAT THE COMMISSION DISCOVERED WAS THE CONCERNS OF THE PUBLIC REALLY NEEDED TO BE ADDRESSED MUCH SOONER THAN THAT. THERE WERE PLANNING ISSUES, AESTHETIC ISSUES, THINGS THAT PEOPLE GET CONCERNED ABOUT WHEN ONE OF THESE TYPE OF PROJECTS SHOWS UP IN THEIR BACKYARD, THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD, SO WE REALLY FELT, AND THE COMMISSION FELT, THAT WE NEEDED TO EMPHASIZE THE PLANNING PROCESS MORE FIRST AND ALSO GIVE THE PUBLIC AN OPPORTUNITY, A MUCH LONGER OPPORTUNITY TO RESPOND. RIGHT NOW, THERE'S A 45-DAY PUBLIC NOTICE PERIOD WHEN AN APPLICANT IS GOING TO FILE WITH THE BOARD. THE SUGGESTION THAT IS FOR THE MORE COMPLICATED AND LARGER PROJECTS, THAT THE COMMISSION -- THE PUBLIC BE NOTIFIED 90 DAYS BEFOREHAND, BEFORE EVEN THAT FILING DATE, THAT THAT IS OCCURRING, AND THAT FOR THE LARGEST PROJECTS, ANYTHING OVER 50 MEGAWATTS, THAT THEY ACTUALLY DO A PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT PROCESS 150 DAYS BEFORE THIS STARTS. SO THERE'S REAL OPPORTUNITY FOR PUBLIC TO ENGAGE IN MORE INFORMAL AND AS WELL AS MEETINGS WHERE THEY CAN JUST BE THEMSELVES AND FIND OUT WHAT'S GOING ON AND ASK QUESTIONS AND NOT THAT HAVE FORMAL LITIGIOUS PROCESS.

>> BECAUSE AS YOU KNOW, A LOT OF FOLKS IN THE NORTHEAST KINGDOM IN PARTICULAR WERE REALLY FEELING AS THOUGH THEIR VOICES WERE NOT BEING HEARD AND THAT THEY WERE KIND OF STEAMROLLED THROUGH THE PROCESS AND NOW THE TURBINES ARE UP.

>> RIGHT, RIGHT, SO I THINK WE'RE ALL LEARNING FROM THESE PROCESSES AND THAT WAS THE POINT OF THE GOVERNOR APPOINTING THE COMMISSION WAS TO LOOK AT THAT AND SEE IF THERE'S A WAY TO DO IT BETTER, AND I THINK THE COMMISSION ALSO FOUND THAT ONE OF THE THINGS THAT THE PUBLIC SERVICE BOARD CURRENTLY DOES IS THEY DO HOLD HEARINGS OR MEETINGS IN THE COMMUNITY, AND THE COMMUNITY MEMBERS WOULD SPEAK AND THEY WOULD THINK THAT THAT GOES INTO THE EVIDENCE RECORD AND IT DIDN'T. AND WE'RE SUGGESTING THAT THOSE ISSUES AT LEAST BE PAID ATTENTION TO THROUGH THE BOARD AND THAT THERE BE RESPONSES SO PEOPLE DON'T FEEL LIKE THEY'VE JUST BEEN TALKING AND NOT REALLY GETTING ANYTHING ON THE RECORD FOR THE COMMISSION, FOR THE BOARD TO CONSIDER.

>> WELL, SOME OF THE GROUPS, I KNOW YOU'VE SEEN THE REACTION, YOU'VE READ THE REACTION, YOU'VE HEARD THE REACTION, BUT SOMEONE WHO HAS CONCERNS ABOUT WIND PROJECTS WAS QUOTED AS SAYING THE SITING COMMISSION FAILED TO ADDRESS THE PROBLEM OF THE IMBALANCE BETWEEN WEALTHY DEVELOPERS WITH, IN HER TERMS, GOBS OF CASH, WHILE TOWNS AND CITIZENS DON'T HAVE THOSE RESOURCES. IS THAT A FAIR CRITICISM?

>> I DON'T THINK ENTIRE, BUT I WANT TO ADDRESS ONE COMPONENT AND THAT WAS LOOKING FOR INTERVENOR FUNDING WHERE SOMEHOW ANYONE WHO WANTED TO INTERVENE IN THIS PROCESS COULD BE GIVEN FUNDING TO DO THAT. THE COMMISSION REALLY CONSIDERED THAT CAREFULLY AND THEY FOUND THAT IT REALLY WASN'T WORKABLE TO DO IT IN AN UNLIMITED WAY. SO INSTEAD, THEY REALLY EMPHASIZED THE ROLE OF REGIONAL PLANNING COMMISSIONS, WHICH, OF COURSE, ARE MADE UP BY THE TOWNS, TO ENGAGE IN THIS AND THEY MADE THE TOWNS, IF THEY DO THE PLANNING AND THE REGIONAL PLANNING COMMISSIONS, IF THEIR PLANS ARE CONSISTENT WITH THE CEP, THEY CAN ACTUALLY BECOME DETERMINATIVE IN THIS PROCESS. IF THEY SAY, YES, WE WANT A PROJECT HERE BUT WE DON'T WANT IT THERE, THEN THAT'S WHAT THE BOARD WOULD NEED TO FOLLOW UNDER THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE COMMISSION. BUT THE OTHER PIECE THAT I THINK IS IMPORTANT IS TO KNOW THAT THE COMMISSION IS RECOMMENDING THAT THE REGIONAL PLANNING COMMISSIONS BE MADE A PARTY TO THE PUBLIC SERVICE BOARD PROCEEDINGS AND THAT THEY BE GIVEN THE FUNDING NECESSARY TO PARTICIPATE ACTIVELY. SO I THINK HER CRITICISM IS FAIR ON AN INDIVIDUAL LEVEL, BUT NOT IN THE SPIRIT OF WHERE I THINK SHE WAS TRYING TO GO AND I THINK THE COMMISSION WAS RESPONSIVE TO THAT.

>> I SHOULD SAY THAT WE HEARD A LOT OF GROUPS PRAISE THE REPORT, THE VERMONT NATIONAL RESOURCES COUNCIL, BUT ON THE OTHER END, THE FOLKS WHO WOULD LIKE TO SEE WIND DEPARTMENT, WHO SEE IT AS THE FUTURE, SHE WAS INCREASED WITH THE PERMITTING STRUCTURE PER PROJECT LARGER THAN THAT 500-KILOWATT. SHE SAID IT'S MORE COMPLICATED, MAKING VERMONT'S TRANSITION TO A RENEWABLE ENERGY FUTURE IS MORE CHALLENGING. THIS IS A FAIR CRITICISM OF THE REPORT?

>> AND I'LL ANSWER IT THE SAME WAY.

>> YES AND NO.

>> YES AND NO. IN THE YES PART, I WANT TO BE SENSITIVE TO THE PART THAT IF YOU LOOK AT THIS, IT LOOKS LIKE IT ADDS A TON MORE TIME IN THE FRONT END FOR A DEVELOPER AND THEY'RE NOT SURE WHAT THEY'RE GOING TO GET OUT OF THAT IN A PROCESS IMPROVEMENT, BUT WHAT I WOULD SAY IN THE NO CATEGORY, THERE WOULD BE FOUR TIERS OF PROJECTS. THOSE THAT ARE IN THE TYPICAL SIZE OF NET METERING PROJECTS THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE LESS THAN 500 KW ARE JUST A NOTICE AND REPORT TO THE BOARD AND APPLICATION TO THE BOARD, NO HEARING AND NO -- THOSE GET ISSUED FAIRLY RAPIDLY. THEN THERE'S THE ONES, THE SIZE PROJECTS BELOW 2.2 MEGAWATTS THAT ARE REALLY IN THE STANDARD OFFER SIZE WHERE THE LEGISLATURE HAS SUPPORTED THOSE PROJECTS GOING FORWARD AS A PUBLIC POLICY AND THOSE WILL GET NOTICE, 30-DAY NOTICE, AS IF A PUBLIC HEARING IS REQUESTED, THEY WILL HAVE ONE. THEN YOU GET INTO THE SLIGHTLY LARGER, BETWEEN THERE AND 15 MEGAWATTS WHERE THERE IS ADDITIONAL NOTICE AND ADDITIONAL WORK FOR THE APPLICANT UP FRONT AND THAT'S WHERE I THINK GABRIELLE MIGHT BE SAYING THIS COULD SLOW THE PROCESS DOWN, BUT I THINK -- AND THE COMMISSION REALLY FELT THIS AND I DO BELIEVE THIS FROM MY WORK WITH NATURAL RESOURCES AS WELL AS WITH PUBLIC SERVICE PROCEEDINGS, THAT IF YOU SPEND MORE TIME UP FRONT, THE ACTUALLY THE TIG GUS PROCESS OF THE -- ACTUAL LITIGIOUS PROCESS OF THE COURT SYSTEM WILL GO FASTER AND BE LESS CONTENTIOUS. SO I THINK THE IMPROVEMENTS COME IN THE BOARD PROCESS ITSELF. RIGHT NOW, WE HAVE THE 45-DAY PUBLIC NOTICE AND THEN AN APPLICATION IS SUBMITTED, AND OFTEN THAT APPLICATION CHANGES DRAMATICALLY THROUGH THE PUBLIC SERVICE BOARD PROCESS. AND WHEN IT DOES, IT OFTEN THEN HAS TO GO BACK, IF YOU WILL, TO THE BEGINNING IN TERMS OF EVIDENCE GATHERING AND ADDITIONAL EXPERTS AND ADDITIONAL TESTIMONY, AND THAT CAN TAKE A VERY LONG TIME. SO I THINK WHAT WE'RE REALLY BELIEVING WILL HAPPEN IS WITH THIS ADDITIONAL PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT PROCESS UP FRONT, THE APPLICATIONS THAT COME BEFORE THE BOARD WILL BE CLEARER. THEY WILL BE MORE FINALIZED. THERE WILL BE LESS FLUFF AROUND THE EDGES IN TERMS OF THINGS UNKNOWN. THEY WILL KNOW MORE ABOUT WHAT THEY WANT TO DO AND HAVE BETTER DESIGNS FOR IT AND THAT PROCESS WILL GO FASTER THROUGH THE SERVICE BOARD.

>> IT SOUNDS LIKE THERE WERE A LOT OF LESSONS LEARNED HERE FROM THE PROJECTS IN THE NORTHEAST KINGDOM. THERE WERE CALLS FOR A MORATORIUM ON WIND DEVELOPMENT IN THE STATE AND IT SOUNDS LIKE THERE ARE SOME -- YOU KNOW, WE NEED TO GET OUR DUCKS IN A ROW BEFORE ANY FUTURE PROJECTS HAPPEN. SHOULD THAT MORATORIUM HAVE TAKEN PLACE?

>> I DON'T BELIEVE SO. AND I WILL SAY THAT THE MORATORIUM SENDS A REALLY BAD MESSAGE TO RENEWABLE ENERGY AND IT WOULD DO SO AROUND THE COUNTRY. THIS WORE REVERBERATED AROUND THE COUNTRY, AND VERMONT HAS AN ENERGY PLAN THAT'S CALLING FOR 90% RENEWABLES BY 2050. IT DOESN'T SPECIFY WHAT TYPE OF RENEWABLES THOSE SHOULD BE OR WHAT MIX THEY SHOULD BE OR EVEN HOW MUCH SHOULD IN-STATE VERSUS OUT OF STATE, BUT IT IS AN AGGRESSIVE AND VISIONARY GOAL AND PUTTING A MORATORIUM UP AND SAYING WE'RE NOT GOING TO ALLOW THIS PARTICULAR TECHNOLOGY I THINK WOULD HAVE SENT A VERY BAD SIGNAL AND WOULD HAVE BEEN THE WRONG THING TO DO, BECAUSE WE STILL HAVE NON-RIDGELINE THINGS THAT CAN OCCUR. WE HAVE OTHER PROJECTS OCCURRING WHERE THERE'S EQUAL CONTROVERSY FOR DIFFERENT REASONS, THE BIOMASS PROJECT PROPOSED. I THINK FRANKLY AS WE GET GO MORE AND MORE SOLAR, YOU WILL SEE PEOPLE CONCERNED ABOUT THOSE THINGS AS WELL. WE SHOULD ADDRESS THOSE CONCERNS, BUT WE SHOULDN'T ADDRESS EACH OF THOSE CONCERNS WITH A MORATORIUM AND STOP.

>> HOW MUCH POWER DOES VERMONT GET RIGHT NOW FROM WIND?

>> RIGHT NOW, WE GET ABOUT, ABOUT 90 MEGAWATTS OF POWER FROM WIND.

>> DO YOU KNOW THE PERCENTAGE, WHAT THAT MAKES UP OVERALL?

>> I WANT TO SAY ABOUT 12% IS MY RECOLLECTION.

>> AND HOW MUCH POWER DO YOU THINK VERMONT CAN GET FROM WIND? WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE RIGHT NUMBER THERE?

>> WE'RE GOING TO DO THAT ANALYSIS, BUT I'M THINKING IT'S PROBABLY IN THE 20% RANGE.

>> HOW MANY MORE PROJECTS, HOW MANY MORE TOWERS ARE WE TALKING, DO YOU THINK?

>> WELL, AGAIN, WITHOUT A SPECIFIC MIX AND NOT KNOWING EXACTLY WHERE WE MIGHT END UP, I WOULD SAY FOR PURPOSES OF DISCUSSION, I WOULD SAY IT'S PROBABLY MAYBE ANOTHER TWO PROJECTS, TWO OR THREE, BUT NOT TEN AND PROBABLY NOT JUST ONE.

>> SO DOES THAT MEAN, THEN, THAT WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE PORTFOLIO AND THE MIX AND ENERGY PLANNING, THAT IF FIVE PROJECTS COME BEFORE, IS THAT THEN, NO, WE ALREADY HAVE A MIX OF WIND? HOW DO YOU CAP THAT DEVELOPMENT ON VERMONT'S RIDGELINE?

>> THAT GETS TO RECOMMENDATION NUMBER ONE OF THE COMMISSION, WHICH IS REALLY FOR US AND THE PUBLIC SERVICE TO DO SOME REGIONAL PLANNING FOR PEOPLE SO THEY CAN SEE WHAT THE OPTIONS MIGHT BE. AGAIN, THE COMPREHENSIVE ENERGY PLAN DOESN'T SAY WHAT MIX WE SHOULD HAVE, BUT WE DISCOVERED THROUGH THIS PROCESS THAT WE NEED TO PROVIDE SOME MORE GUIDANCE TO PEOPLE, SO TO THE REGIONAL PLANNING COMMISSIONS, WE'D PROVIDE SOME SCENARIOS SHOWING WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF YOU WENT ALL ELECTRIFICATION, EVERYTHING, OUR TRANSPORTATION, OUR HEATING AND OUR ELECTRIC NEEDS WERE ALL ELECTRIFIED, HOW MUCH ELECTRICITY WOULD THAT MEAN, WHAT WOULD THAT LOOK LIKE. AND ON THE OTHER SIDE, WHAT IF YOU WENT WITH BIOFUELS FOR TRANSPORTATION, WHAT WOULD THAT LOOK LIKE IN TERMS OF THE ELECTRIC NEED AND THINGS LIKE THAT. I THINK THOSE ARE KIND OF TWO EXTREME EXAMPLES I'VE GIVEN YOU AND THEY PROBABLY WOULDN'T BE PARTICULARLY HELPFUL IN A REAL-WORLD SITUATION, BUT IN BETWEEN THIS, I THINK WE CAN DO A MIX OF THINGS TO SHOW PEOPLE, IF WE LOOK AT THE WIND RESOURCE AND WHERE IT IS AND WE LOOK AT THE SOLAR RESOURCE AND SOUTH-FACING SLOPES AND LOOK AT THE RESOURCE MAPS THAT THE AGENCY OF NATURAL RESOURCES HAS DEVELOPED TO LOOK AT SENSITIVE AREAS AND PLACES THAT WE SHOULD STAY AWAY FROM, WE'LL GET A SENSE OF WHAT'S POSSIBLE.

>> ANOTHER GROUP, ENERGIZE VERMONT, WHO IS CONCERNED WITH THESE ONGOING WIND PROJECT PROPOSALS, HAS COME UP WITH A LIST OF OTHER MIXES, OTHER POTENTIAL POWER SOURCES. THEY WOULD LIKE TO SEE MORE RELIANCE ON HYDRO QUEBEC, MORE BIOMASS AS YOU HAD JUST MENTIONED, AND METHANE GAS, COW POWER, IF YOU WILL.

>> YES.

>> HOW LIKELY ARE ANY OF THOSE SOURCES?

>> WELL, THEY'RE ALL, THEY'RE ALL IN THE MIX AND I THINK THAT'S WHERE WE SHOULD DO SOME ADDITIONAL SCENARIO WORK, BUT THERE'S SOME POLICY DECISIONS THERE ABOUT HOW MUCH DO YOU WANT TO RELY ON ONE PARTICULAR SOURCE, LET'S SAY HYDRO QUEBEC, HOW MUCH IS REASONABLE TO RELY ON OUT OF STATE, OUT OF COUNTRY SOURCE, AND HYDRO FOR THAT PARTICULAR ASPECT OF YOUR GENERATION PORTFOLIO. I THINK AT THE END OF THE DAY, IT'S GOING TO BE A MIX OF ALL THESE THINGS. MY ONE CRITICISM OF THAT REPORT WOULD BE, IT KIND OF PUSHED THE PROBLEM TO THE OUT-OF-STATE AND ALSO CALLED FOR SOME ADDITIONAL NUCLEAR, BUT NOT OUR NUCLEAR, SO I THINK WE HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY, I THINK VERMONTERS REALLY FEEL THIS, THAT THEY WANT TO SUPPORT THE RENEWABLE ENERGY AND THE ENERGY SECURITY THAT COMES ALONG WITH HAVING OUR OWN ENERGY SOURCES, BUT WE WANT TO DO SO ON A SCALE THAT MAKES SENSE FOR VERMONT AND I THINK THAT THE COMMISSION'S WORK PLUS OUR ADDITIONAL MAPPING AND STUFF WILL PROVIDE A WAY OF THEM BEING ABLE TO SEE A PATH FORWARD FOR THEIR TOWNS AND REGIONS WHERE THEY CAN FEEL GOOD ABOUT PARTICIPATING IN THAT PLAN RATHER THAN FEELING KIND OF BE SEEING -- BESIEGED BY

>>> WELCOME BACK, EVERYONE. WE'RE TALKING WITH CHRIS RECCHIA, THE PUBLIC SERVICE DEPARTMENT COMMISSIONER, AND ONE OF THE ISSUES THAT IS STILL BEING TALKED ABOUT IN THE STATE, OF COURSE, HAS TO DO WITH VERMONT YANKEE, FEDERAL REGULATORS MET WITH THE MEDIA AND GAVE AN UPDATE ON THE LATEST REVIEW OF OPERATIONS AT THE NUCLEAR POWER PLANT AND SAFETY. ADAM SULLIVAN HAS THIS REPORT.

>> IF YOU TALK TO THE FOLKS IN DOWNTOWN BRAT TELLBORO ABOUT VERMONT YANKEE, YOU ARE LIKELY TO GET A WIDE RANGE OF OPINIONS. SOME WHO WANT IT SHUT DOWN NECESSARILY AND OTHERS WHO WOULD LIKE TO SEE YANKEE CONTINUE TO OPERATE FOR YEARS INTO THE FUTURE. HE OFFERS A LITTLE BIT OF BOTH.

>> I FEEL LIKE IT SHOULD BE KEPT OPEN, BUT WITH SOME STIPULATIONS. LIKE THEY SHOULD GET THE DIE-CAST STORAGE OFF THE PROPERTY. I THINK THAT'S A PRETTY RISKY PROBLEM. I THINK IT'S NOT VERY SAFE.

>> OFFICIALS FROM THE NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION ADDRESSED SAFETY CONCERNS WITH MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA MILLIONS. THE NRC RECENTLY FINISHED AN ANNUAL ASSESSMENT OF THE PLANT IN WHICH YANKEE WAS GIVEN THE HIGHEST MARKS IT COULD GET.

>> THEY'RE IN THE ACTION MATRIX, WHICH IS THE MOST SAFE LEVEL, WHICH IS LICENSEE RESPONSE COLUMN, SO THE ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION IS YES.

>> THERE WERE SOME AREAS OF CONCERNING LIKE FAULTY FIRE DOOR LATCHES AND STANDARD OPERATIONAL ERRORS, BUT NRC OFFICIALS SAY IN MOST CASES THOSE ISSUES HAVE ALREADY BEEN CORRECTED. BUT FOR MANY, IT'S STILL NOT GOOD ENOUGH. YANKEE PROTESTERS HAVE BEEN CALLING FOR THE PLANT TO BE SHUT DOWN FOR YEARS. INCLUDING GOVERNOR PETER SHUMLIN. THE ANNUAL ASSESSMENT DOES NOT ELABORATE ON THE CURRENT LITIGATION SURROUNDING THE PLANT. IN THE U.S. SECOND CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS, OR THE ONGOING BATTLE BETWEEN VERMONT AND THE PLANT OVER THE PLANT'S CERTIFICATE OF PUBLIC GOOD AND CONTINUED OPERATION.

>> WE DON'T COMMENT ON THAT. WE'RE NOT IN THE, IN THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS FOR THAT.

>> YANKEE OFFICIALS SAY THEY'RE PLEASED WITH THE NRC'S FINDINGS, BUT NOT SURPRISED.

>> THE PLANT OPERATED FOR ALMOST 500 DAYS CONTINUOUSLY DAY AND NIGHT, AND THAT WAS FOLLOWED UP BY A VERY SUCCESSFUL REFUELING OUTAGE, AND SO WE'RE VERY PLEASED WITH THE PLANT PERFORMANCE, BUT WE'D ALSO POINT OUT THAT THAT'S ONLY POSSIBLE BECAUSE WE HAVE A GREAT SAFETY FOCUS HERE.

>> A CONCERN SHARED BY EVEN THOSE WHO SUPPORT THE PLANT'S PRESENCE IN THE REGION.

>> THERE'S A LOT OF PEOPLE WORKING FOR VERMONT YANKEE, SO IT'S A LOT OF JOBS. SO I CAN UNDERSTAND THE DANGER SIDE OF IT TOO. IT'S A RISKY BUSINESS. THAT'S WHY THEY'RE HIGHLY TRAIN PEOPLE THAT WORK THERE.

>> SO THE FEDS SAY IT'S SAFE, VERMONT STILL TRYING TO SHUT IT DOWN. WHAT'S THE LATEST ON THE LEGAL SIDE?

>> WELL, AS YOU KNOW, THERE ARE A VARIETY OF CASES ONGOING BOTH IN FEDERAL COURT AND STATE COURT AND I CAN'T COMMENT ON THE SPECIFIC PROCEEDINGS ASSOCIATED WITH THOSE. I CAN JUST SAY THAT THEY'RE ONGOING.

>> WAS THE SECOND --

>> AND WE HAVE -- I'M SORRY.

>> WOULD THE FEDERAL SECOND CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS, I THINK THAT'S ONE PEOPLE ARE TRACKING PRETTY CLOSELY, THE WHOLE SHUTDOWN.

>> RIGHT.

>> DO YOU HAVE ANY TIME FRAME ON THAT? I KNOW YOU CAN'T COMMENT SPECIFICALLY ON THE CASE. BUT DO YOU HAVE A TIME FRAME? BECAUSE THE STATE LOST AND THEN APPEALED.

>> YOU HAVE THE ARGUMENTS IN NEW YORK CITY ON THAT, AND I DON'T KNOW, I THINK THE ESTIMATE WAS IT COULD TAKE FROM A COUPLE OF MONTHS TO EVEN A YEAR TO DECIDE. SO I'M NOT SURE WHAT THE TIMEFRAME WAS. WE HAVEN'T HEARD ANYTHING ON THAT.

>> THIS SEEMS LIKE THE EXACT PLACE THAT VERMONT LAWMAKERS DID NOT WANT TO BE.

>> SURE.

>> HERE WE HAVE A PLANT THAT'S STILL OPERATING, IT'S STILL CRANKING OUT POWER. NONE OF THAT POWER IS NOW GOING TO VERMONT. IT'S GOING OUT OF STATE. THIS SEEMS LIKE A REAL LOSE-LOSE FOR LAWMAKERS.

>> OKAY. YOU KNOW, I THINK THAT WE ARE IN A GOOD PROCESS RIGHT NOW WITH THE CERTIFICATE OF PUBLIC GOOD PROCESS BEFORE THE PUBLIC SERVICE BOARD. YANKEE IS PARTICIPATING IN THAT. WE ARE GETTING THROUGH THOSE HEARINGS, AND THAT'S ONGOING AS WELL. SO I THINK THAT THERE WILL BE A DECISION OUT OF THAT THAT WILL HELP INFORM THE REST OF THIS. BUT IT IS -- IT CERTAINLY IS A LONG SLOG AND I UNDERSTAND YOUR POINT.

>> DO YOU THINK THAT WE WOULD BE IN THIS SCENARIO -- I KNOW YOU FOLLOWED AND WORKED WITH THE VERMONT ENVIRONMENT ON THE STATE SIDE AS WELL AS THE PRIVATE SIDE -- WHERE WE WOULD BE IN THIS SCENARIO WHERE LAWMAKERS IN THE STATE TRIED TO SHUT DOWN THE PLANT, THEY WEREN'T SUCCESSFUL AND WE'RE NOW IN WHAT COULD BE A HAVE PROLONGED LEGAL BATTLE, COULD BE YEARS, IT'S UP CLEAR HOW LONG IT COULD DRAG OUT IF BOTH SIDES KEEP APPEALING THIS, BUT DID YOU THINK WE WOULD EVER BE IN A SITUATION WHERE THE STATE SAID WE DON'T WANT YOU, VERMONT YANKEE, AND VERMONT YANKEE IS HERE PUMPING OUT POWER, BUT NOT IN THE STATE.

>> I GREW UP IN BATTLEBORO ABOUT THE TIME YANKEE STARTED AND I ALWAYS THOUSAND IT WOULD RUN FOR -- THOUGHT IT WOULD RUN FOR 40 YEARS AND WOULD SHUT DOWN. I DON'T THINK WE'RE SURPRISING WE'RE IN THIS BATTLE BECAUSE THE STATE HAS CHANGED -- A LOT HAS CHANGED IN THAT 40 YEARS OF OPERATION. WE'VE MOVED IN A DIRECTION AND OUR ENERGY PLAN AND OUR ENERGY FUTURE IS DIFFERENT THAN THE VERMONT YANKEE MODEL, SO WHAT I THINK WE'RE SURPRISED ABOUT IS THAT VERMONT REALLY HAS NO LITTLE, SEEMINGLY NO LITTLE DECISION MAKING IN THAT COURSE FOR WHAT OUR ENERGY FUTURE SHOULD LOOK LIKE. IT'S NOT THAT THE WORKERS OF THE PLANT ARE GOOD, THEY'RE SOLID, THEY'RE TRYING TO MAKE THE THING WORK, BUT IT IS 40 YEARS OLD AND WE'RE MOVING ON.

>> YOU MENTIONED THAT THE PUBLIC SERVICE BOARD PROCESS HAS NOW RESTARTED THE CERTIFICATE OF PUBLIC GOOD. MEANWHILE, THERE'S MANY TASKS GOING ON HERE, MANY DIFFERENT ISSUES. YOU HAVE THE LEGAL BATTLE OVER WHETHER OR NOT THE STATE LEGISLATURE CAN INTERVENE, GET INVOLVED, WHAT SHOULD BE PART OF THEIR DISCUSSION. WHEN IT COMES TO THE STATE PROCESS, WHAT IS THE TIMELINE FOR THAT MOVING FORWARD?

>> RIGHT. WELL, WE'RE ABOUT HALFWAY THROUGH THAT PROCESS NOW AND I THINK THAT WE PROBABLY HAVE SEVERAL MORE MONTHS OF ADDITIONAL BRIEFING THAT OCCURS FROM ALL THE PARTIES THAT ARE PARTICIPATING, AND THEN THE BOARD HAS TO MAKE A DECISION. SO IT WOULDN'T SURPRISE ME IF WE WERE PROBABLY, YOU KNOW, STILL SIX TO NINE MONTHS AWAY FROM A DECISION THERE.

>> SO IN YOUR MIND, I'M SURE YOU'VE THOUGHT ABOUT DIFFERENT SCENARIOS, IF THE PUBLIC SERVICE BOARD SAYS NO, WE'RE NOT ISSUING A CERTIFICATE OF PUBLIC GOOD, DO YOU THINK THAT ENDS THE QUESTION OF YANKEE'S FUTURE? OR IS THAT JUST GOING TO BE ANOTHER STEP ON THE PROCESS?

>> I HONESTLY DON'T KNOW OR SPECULATE WHAT YANKEE WOULD DO, BUT CERTAINLY OUR POSITION AS A DEPARTMENT AND THE PUBLIC ADVOCATE FOR THE PUBLIC GOOD, WE ARE RECOMMENDING THAT THE BOARD NOT ISSUE A CPG, SO WE ARE CERTAINLY HOPEFUL FOR THAT OUTCOME.

>> AND YANKEE GIVEN ANY INDICATION THAT THEY WOULD PURSUE LEGAL ACTION? WE'VE CERTAINLY SEEN THEM PURSUE IN OTHER CASES ON EVERY POINT.

>> AND THEY HAVE REFUELED.

>> THEY HAVE REFUELED.

>> SO I THINK THAT HAS BEEN THEIR HISTORY. AGAIN, I'M NOT GOING TO TRY AND SPECULATE FOR WHAT THEY DO, BUT I THINK THAT'S CERTAINLY A POSSIBILITY.

>> HOW WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE THE RELATIONS BETWEEN VERMONT YANKEE AND VERMONT GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS RIGHT NOW?

>> I THINK IT IS CONSTRUCTIVE BUT CAUTIOUS. WHAT I WANT TO SAY IS THAT, YOU KNOW, I CAME IN AS COMMISSIONER IN JANUARY. I TRIED TO START A CLEAN SLATE. I REACHED OUT TO ENTERGY AND SPOKE WITH THEM TO JUST DISCUSS GENERAL, YOU KNOW, INTRODUCE MYSELF AND SAY I'M AVAILABLE. WE CERTAINLY DO DRILLS ON A REGULAR BASIS. WE HAVE A STAFF MEMBER WHO IS PRETTY MUCH AT THE PLANT ALL THE TIME AND THE COOPERATION BETWEEN HIM AND THE WORKERS IS EXCELLENT. SO THERE ARE ASPECTS OF IT THAT ARE VERY GOOD AND THEN THERE ARE ASPECTS OF IT THAT ARE -- WE DON'T FEEL LIKE WE HAVE BEEN TREATED FAIRLY OR HONESTLY THROUGH THESE PROCESSES. AND SO THAT WEIGHS ON THE RELATIONSHIP.

>> I'D LIKE TO GET TO WHAT SEEMS LIKE KIND OF A TREND IN ENERGY HERE. ANOTHER TREND, IF YOU WILL. AND THAT'S BIOMASS. MONTPELIER IS LOOKING AT A $20 MILLION INVESTMENT TO CREATE A HEATING DISTRICT DOWNTOWN NORWICH, FAIR HAVEN, A LOT OF PLACES LOOKING AT BIOMASS. HOW SUSTAINABLE IS THIS AND REALLY HOW MUCH POWER IS CREATED IN BIOMASS?

>> SO IN THE CASE OF THE MONTPELIER DISTRICT ENERGY SYSTEM, THAT'S A HEAT THERMAL PROJECT, MEANING NO ELECTRICITY BEING PRODUCED AND THOSE ARE VERY EFFICIENT. YOU PICTURE EVEN THE MOST, VERMONT CASTINGS, WOOD STOVE, 80% EFFICIENT. THESE ARE SIMILAR ON A COMMUNITY BASIS THAT ACTUALLY HAS ADDITIONAL ECONOMIES OF SCALE, SO THEY CAN SAVE A LOT OF OIL. PARTICULARLY IF THEY'RE DISPLACING OIL, THEY'RE VERY COST EFFECTIVE AND I WOULD LIKE TO SEE MORE OF THOSE IN COMMUNITIES AROUND VERMONT. OF COURSE, WE'RE LEADERS IN THE NATION ON SCHOOL HEATING IN THAT WAY, WITH WOOD CHIPS, AND WE HAVE, I THINK, 45 SCHOOLS THAT ARE HEATED WITH WOOD CHIPS. NOW, THE SUSTAINABILITY PIECE REALLY DEPENDS ON THE FOREST MANAGEMENT. THAT'S REALLY THE KEY THERE IN TERMS OF MAKING SURE THAT YOUR HARVESTING PROPERLY AND I KNOW THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF FOREST, PARKS AND RECREATION IS WORKING HARD, PARTICULARLY IN THE CONTEXT OF THE PUBLIC SERVICE BOARD PROCEEDINGS ON THE NORTH SPRINGFIELD BIOMASS PLANT, TO MAKE SURE THAT THAT'S DONE RIGHT FOR THIS GENERATION OF WOOD HARVESTING. THIS IS AN ELECTRIC GENERATION PLANT, AND SO WHEN YOU'RE PRODUCING ELECTRICITY FROM WOOD, IT'S ABOUT AS EFFICIENT AS PRODUCING ELECTRICITY FROM REALLY ANY OTHER FUEL, ABOUT 25% EFFICIENT, FRANKLY, UNLESS YOU ADD OTHER COMPONENTS TO MAKE USE OF THAT WASTE HEAT. THINGS LIKE, IN THE CASE OF NORTH SPRINGFIELD, THEY'RE THINKING ABOUT GREENHOUSE USE AND THINGS LIKE THAT AND IN THE CASE OF FAIR HAVEN PROJECT, THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT HYDRO UPON KNICKS AND A FEW -- HYDROPONICS AND A FEW OTHER THINGS, SO THERE ARE MIXES YOU CAN DO WITH THE HEAT TO HELP IMPROVE THE OVERALL EFFICIENCY. TRANGLY, THE BEST USE IS HEATING.

>> QUICKLY, WE ONLY HAVE ABOUT 90 SECONDS BUT I WANT TO GET TO THIS CONTROVERSIAL PROJECT AND THIS IS THE PROPOSAL TO RUN NATURAL GAS DOWN THROUGH ABOUT 11 COMMUNITIES AND EVENTUALLY UNDER LAKE CHAMPLAIN OVER TO FORT TIE CONDEROGA PAPER MILL. IS THAT GOING TO HAPPEN?

>> WE'RE SUPPORTING THAT TO HAPPEN. THE RENEWALS BY 2050 ASSUMES THE OTHER 10% IS NATURAL GAS AND THAT WILL BE A RELATIVELY BETTER ECONOMIC AND BETTER FUEL FOR THAT FORESEE TIME PERIOD. CERTAINLY WHERE IT'S DISPLACING OIL, THE CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS OF THAT ARE MUCH BETTER, AND WE THINK IT'S GOOD TO GIVE OPTIONS TO SOME OF THE BUSINESSES THERE THAT ARE BURNING NUMBER 6 OIL AND NUMBER 2 OIL, SO I THINK IT WILL HAPPEN. IT'S PROBABLY A GOOD EXAMPLE OF WHERE WE HOPE THAT THE IMPROVEMENTS THAT THE SITING COMMISSION HAS RECOMMENDED WILL HELP SOME OF THE DISCUSSION THAT HAS OCCURRED IN THIS PROCESS. YOU HAVE COMMUNITIES THAT WERE VERY UPSET ABOUT LAST MINUTE CHANGES THAT OCCURRED.

>> AND ENVIRONMENTALISTS WORRIED ABOUT THE LAKE.

>> WE HAVE TO LEAVE IT THERE.

>> THANK YOU, GUYS.

>> THANK YOU, CHRIS RECCHIA. THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSIONER, YOU CAN ALWAYS REACH HIM WITH COMMENTS AND FEEDBACK ALWAYS IN MONTPELIER. WE TANG YOU AT HOME FOR WATCHING. HAVE A GREAT SUNDAY, EVERYONE. TAKE CARE.

>> BYE-BYE.

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