Here’s a little shock to the system. Vermont’s own Green Mountain Power has some of the lowest electricity rates in New England. GMP has the second-lowest residential rates of any regional utility, the third-lowest commercial rates, and the absolute rock-bottom lowest rates for industrial customers.
The data comes from the Edison Electric Institute, so don’t try to tell me somebody’s got their thumb on the scale.
It’s true that Vermont has relatively high power rates compared to the rest of the nation, but that’s because of built-in structural disadvantages for all of the Northeast, not because of excessive regulation or our green power policy. Indeed, it’s a testament to GMP management that it’s kept rates so low while moving aggressively toward a renewable future. It would also appear that Vermont’s regulatory structure is a lot smarter than it’s given credit for.
A couple more points need to be made.
First, those controversial Renewable Energy Credits? They work! They’re doing what they were designed to do: allow buildout of renewables while keeping in-state prices low. Sure, we’re losing the on-paper advantage of the credit, but we’re doing the most important thing: actually building renewables without putting an undue burden on the economy.
Second, utility rates are simply not that big a factor in business decision-making. The Boston area has incredibly high prices, and yet its economy is doing extremely well. Other factors play a much larger role in siting decisions. In Boston, it’s the presence of a thriving research and entrepreneurial community.
If we want to further encourage business expansion and relocation, we should stop worrying about electricity rates. We’re doing very well regionally, and we’re doing the best we can nationally.
And yes, the Republicans should stop trying to exploit this nonexistent issue and instead focus on ideas that could actually help our economy grow.