Governor Peter Shumlin says it might be possible to funnel the power through Vermont without building large new transmission lines.
Shumlin says the discussion of future energy sources was a key topic at this weekend’s annual meeting of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian premiers.
Vermont currently gets about a third of its electrical power from Hydro Quebec and this share could increase in the future if the state acts as a conduit to bring additional power from Quebec to the states of southern New England.
In a conference call with Vermont reporters, Shumlin noted that the government of Newfoundland and Labrador is building a huge hydro project and the goal of this effort is to ship the power south through a new transmission system in Maine. Shumlin says this project creates a competitive marketplace in Canada for new hydro power.
“That obviously puts some pressure on Hydro Quebec as they face a competitive hydro source to figure out all options to transmit additional power into the southern New England market.”
Shumlin thinks that Hydro Quebec will be interested in developing a western New England corridor for power. While the project would be designed to bring additional electricity to the population centers of southern New England, it’s likely that Vermont would get a share of the power if the state is used as the transmission route.
“We have extensive conversations as governors and premiers about how we facilitate that conversation in a way that gets the green clean hydro power into the southern New England markets,” said Shumlin. “In a thoughtful way without creating transmission problems that nobody wants.”
And Shumlin is hoping that Vermont can be the conduit for the new Canadian power without constructing huge new transmission lines.
“In light of the fact that we’re not utilizing all of our current transmission capacity,” said Shumlin. “What conversations can we have with the federal government and with ISO New England about increasing the load in our existing infrastructure before we get panicked about building new.”
Shumlin says the governors and premiers are also interested in developing high speed passenger rail service in the region in the coming years. This service would link New York, Albany, Boston, and Burlington with additional routes to Montreal.