Strong collaboration among Vermont utilities saves customers money and helps Vermont lead the region in forward-looking policy. In 2013, for example, collaboration helped Vermont avoid building a $157 million transmission project.

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ISO-New England studies in 2011 and 2012 showed the need for a $157 million transmission upgrade to resolve a system reliability concern in the Central Vermont area. In late 2011, the Vermont distribution utilities and VELCO began work consistent with Vermont planning requirements, to assess the potential for energy efficiency, demand response or generation – non-transmission alternatives – to resolve the Central Vermont concern. More on how the collaboration unfolded:

  • April 2012: ISO-New England Solutions Study proposes transmission upgrades to resolve Central VT concerns

At this point, without VT NTA study requirement, the $157 Million
transmission solution would likely have been implemented.

  • Nov 2012: Vermont utilities present study group results to ISO-New England showing potential for non-transmission alternatives to postpone Central VT upgrades
  • Early 2013: ISO-New England agrees to reassess need for Central VT upgrades
  • Summer 2013: ISO-New England study confirms Central VT upgrade deferral

How NTA study concluded gap would be closed

  • 5-6 MW in electric Energy Efficiency achieved from Community Energy and Efficiency Development fund investment
  • 35 MW of incremental net metering over 20 years
  • 122 MW of incremental standard offer projects over 13 years
  • Both the net metering and standard offer programs were scaled down to account for different location effectiveness factors and technology efficiencies

Conclusions of the Central Vermont NTA study

  • Current and planned programs will reduce the need in the Central Vermont area to about 10 MW held constant over the next ten years
  • Vermont can address remaining gap with demand response program or a similarly less costly solution
  • The utilities recommend ISO-NE reassess need for Central VT upgrades and consider distributed generation in other regional planning studies
    • ISO-NE’s 2013 updated study confirmed deferral of upgrades, but reached its conclusion based on a different analysis, i.e., a lower ISO-NE load forecast resulting from full credit to future energy efficiency in contrast to the Vermont approach where stakeholders have agreed that 50% of energy efficiency is embedded in our forecast.
  • NTA study slowed solution for long enough to identify changing distributed generation and energy efficiency landscape and avoid $157 million transmission investment.

More background on Vermont’s approach to planning

New England allocates transmission across all customers, which tends to favor transmission solutions over other non-transmission solutions. Vermont statute requires an approach to planning that fully considers all kinds of solutions.

  • VELCO must submit a 20-year transmission plan update at least every three years to “identify potential need for transmission system improvements as early as possible, in order to allow sufficient time to plan and implement more cost-effective non-transmission alternatives to meet reliability needs, wherever feasible.”
  • VELCO and distribution utilities affected by a reliability issue must collaborate on determining whether a reliability need can be met with a non-transmission solution instead of an infrastructure upgrade, as established in Public Service Board Docket 7081. They do this primarily through the Vermont System Planning Committee.
  • All utilities and state utility regulators must “[a]dvocate for regional cost support for the least cost solution with equal consideration and treatment of all available resources, including transmission, strategic distributed generation, targeted energy efficiency, and demand response resources on a total cost basis.” Act 61, 2006 Vermont General Assembly.