Vermont Electric Cooperative: Natural gas shortages contributing to 8.19% rate hike request

In a year when inflation and other economic pressures are already challenging Vermonters, the cost of electricity is set to go up about 8%, according to one major electric utility.

Vermont Electric Co-op, the largest locally-owned electric distribution utility in the state, anticipates a $4.8 million increase in power supply costs over 2022, and is asking for an 8.19% cost hike from customers to help absorb the burden.

According to a VEC press release, shortages of natural gas are one of the big reasons for this development.

Wikimedia Commons/ReubenGBrewer

AFFORDABLE BUT NOT READILY AVAILABLE: Natural gas continues to be one of the most cost-efficient fuels for electric and heat production, but Democrat policies have restricted access for the New England region.

“The primary driver for the increase request is the significant upward pressure on the cost of wholesale power, primarily driven by the worldwide shortage of natural gas,” the release states.

Rebecca Towne, VEC’s chief executive officer, is asking customers to understand the cost pressures the utility faces.

“We know that this is a challenging time for many VEC members and this increase is not good news,” she said. “We have done our very best to keep the rate request as low as possible given the significant cost increases VEC is facing.”

VEC also attributed rate hike request to “inflationary pressures including rising interest rates, fuel costs, health care costs, and supply chain pressures.”

ISO New England says natural gas use is up overall

Ellen Foley, who heads public relations for ISO New England, told TNR that natural gas use is way up in New England compared to recent years, and that new investments are trending toward wind and solar energy.

“In 2021, natural gas power plants produced 46% of the electricity produced in New England, up from 15% in 2000. But as we move forward, most of the proposed new resources are wind, solar, or battery storage,” she wrote in an email.

She added that there may be shortages in natural gas if winter temperatures are harsh, but that VEC has plans in place to handle it.

“In the event prolonged cold snaps develop, ISO New England has procedures in place to monitor energy supplies and identify potential problems early enough for the region to take proactive measures, such as expedited fuel deliveries or asking for public conservation,” she wrote.

Page 18 of ISO’s Regional Electricity Outlook details pricing for different energy sources. The graph on that page shows that natural gas consistently prices below the wholesale electricity price, suggesting it’s a benefit to ratepayers to continue embracing the energy source.

A survey of VEC members for the year 2022 found that while members do support continued investments in renewables, they express interest in keeping natural gas and nuclear as viable options.

“Members continue to feel that providing electricity from solar and hydro power is important. Although the importance of providing power from nuclear energy and natural gas remains low, both have increased in importance from most of the previous studies,” the survey states.

At the national level, the Biden administration has been implementing policies that are inhibiting efforts to get more natural gas into the New England Region. A report by the Daily Caller from earlier this year details how ISO New England approved to cancel a natural gas infrastructure project would have powered an additional half million homes.

“While the power plant would’ve boosted electricity supply in the New England region, opponents of the plan said it would be counterproductive to local climate goals,” the report states. ISO New England is quoted suggesting that the timeline for the plant’s construction was not fast enough.

Last month the Wall Street Journal published a story warning New England states that they could be prone to blackouts this winter due to the region’s management of energy sources in the face of rising demand.

“New England power producers are preparing for potential strain on the grid this winter as a surge in natural-gas demand abroad threatens to reduce supplies they need to generate electricity,” the report states.

Big subsidies continue for green energy

About 60% of VEC’s total budget is spent on “power supply and the transmission system to deliver it.” Green energy’s true costs to ratepayers are masked due to a steady reliance on taxpayer subsidies for solar and wind energy. Natural gas is known to be a reliable economic driver of affordable energy that keeps electric rates lower.

The Institute for Energy Research estimates that taxpayers will pay more than $40 billion in renewable subsidies between the years 2018 and 2027.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at bielawski82@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/ReubenGBrewer
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4 thoughts on “Vermont Electric Cooperative: Natural gas shortages contributing to 8.19% rate hike request

  1. Even with all the no more fracking by the leftist commies the real reason for the shortage is bidens illegal war with Russia and the US blowing up the Nord stream pipeline to hurt Russia. To get the euros to follow the no energy from Putin failed policy of the puppet biden he promised we’d send oil and nat gas to them which is creating the shortage. He’s hurting the same idiots who voted to keep his policies alive. The sheep have no brains. Thru all this no energy policy Russia still sells as much as it had only to China and India and the middle east instead of euros while we freeze because leftist will shoot themselves in the feet rather then vote against it.

  2. Here is a quote of The Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) website….they want to halt all natural gas & needed pipelines for ALL of New England. When the book on the collapse of Vermont is written….the CLF has earned a long chapter…and not just this…look what they did over 20 years to destroy any chance of the approved & funnded, badly needed Essex Circ Highway…or what they did to Stowe Mtn – they badly needed to expand on-mountain lodging to compete…and they wanted to build on the Little Spruce PARKING LOT. The CLF HATES business (unless “green”) and they tied Stowe Mtn up in court for YEARS, claiming that this parking lot….was a BEAR HABITAT – to be “protected”.. The CLF lost after MANY COURT APPEALS, but it seriously cost $$$$ Stowe Mtn. So READ this…the CLF states:

    “We must move forward with climate action by moving to low- and no-carbon energy sources now…. Now, it’s time to put an end date on gas or risk our climate future.
    Our current over-reliance on gas harms our climate, costs us money, and puts our health and safety at risk.

    “That’s why CLF is working to:
    Block new or expanded gas plants and pipelines”

    “Big Gas has spent millions of dollars painting its dirty product as an inexpensive, climate-friendly fuel. But there’s nothing inexpensive about natural gas. Sinking consumer funds – dollars coming out of your wallet and mine – into infrastructure that will further entrench our reliance on this climate-polluting fossil fuel is simply a bad investment all around.”

  3. Sounds to me like the Progressive Enviro’s (vicious as they are)…may be on to somthing….they want to ban all fossil fuels (including natural gas)….and halt any new pipeline to distrubute any needed fossil fuels. Yet, said fossil fuels produce most the electricty for their EV’s??? So what will happen, if this:

    ““In 2021, natural gas power plants produced 46% of the electricity produced in New England,….”

    So who is the brainiac behind “shut-down-natural-gas-campaign?….you can certainly point to VT’s own Conservation Law Foundation, maybe?

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