Green Mountain Power is asking Vermont regulators to approve a 4.98 percent rate increase for customers starting in January 2018.
In filings with the Public Service Board on April 14, the state’s largest utility said rising transmission costs, regional grid capacity issues and net metering led to the need for increased rates. GMP spokeswoman Kristin Carlson said the rate increase would have been larger, but the company found savings that offset some of the increases.
“The main cost drivers of this rate filing are uncontrollable cost pressure from transmission, regional capacity and net metering costs,” Carlson said.
She added that transmission costs are rising across the entire New England energy grid, operated by ISO New England.
Green Mountain Power’s efforts to expand the use of battery energy storage will help limit the impact of rising regional transmission costs, Carlson said, by reducing Vermont’s reliance on power brought into the state through the ISO New England grid.
“When you leverage in new technologies like battery storage, where you can harness the power of the sun through solar projects, and then you can put that energy back on the system, that's where you have the savings,” Carlson said.
The Department of Public Service’s director of public advocacy, Jim Porter, said in an interview that the department will review the company’s rate request with the help of hired experts. That review is in its early stages now, Porter said. He didn’t name any specific concerns the department has, but said that “any increase is one that we obviously look at closely.”
The three-member Public Service Board must approve any new rates, and Carlson said the company has permission from the board to freeze current rates until there’s a ruling on the requested increase. If approved, new rates will go into effect in January 2018.