A decade ago, when the state of Vermont was outbid by a Canadian company for a package of hydroelectric dams along the Connecticut and Deerfield rivers, many observers, including ourselves, lamented that an opportunity to bolster the state’s renewable energy portfolio had been missed.
So when the dams were put up for sale again this year by the current owner, TransCanada, which wants to finance a $13 billion purchase of a Texas-based gas distributor, Gov. Peter Shumlin saw a chance to redeem that lost opportunity. In April he convened a working group of energy experts and state officials to revisit the possibility of the state acquiring the 13 hydroelectric stations, now valued at between $750 million and $800 million. Last week a Department of Public Service memo surfaced deeming it highly unlikely that the state could pull off an acquisition on its own, given the time constraints and regulatory hurdles involved.
“It’s very clear that we cannot, nor should we try to, do this on our own,” said Public Service Commissioner Chris Recchia.
To which we can only say, Whew, that was close.
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