Public hearing on GMP’s proposed Climate Plan cancelled in Vermont

Green Mountain Power said recently that it will keep the public updated on plans to reschedule

Green Mountain Power (GMP) said recently that Vermont regulators — to help stop the spread of COVID-19 — have cancelled a public hearing on the company’s proposed Climate Plan.

“The hearing was originally scheduled for April 7 in Montpelier, but due to the Stay Home, Stay Safe order and ongoing health and safety concerns, the Public Utility Commission cancelled the hearing,” GMP added on March 28. “We will keep everyone updated on any plans to reschedule.”

GMP, in a Jan. 10 letter to the Vermont Public Utility Commission, said that it requests that the commission schedule a status conference as promptly as possible to establish a schedule that will enable review and approval of the plan by May 1, so that there is sufficient time to incorporate proposed Climate Plan projects into GMP’s June 1 annual base rate filing.

In its Climate Plan, GMP said that the projects that will be selected annually as a part of the Climate Plan process are not part of the base capital spending during the company’s existing Multi-Year Regulation Plan period. Instead, the Climate Plan work will complement and accelerate the company’s ongoing system and operational hardening in order to maintain and evolve the company’s energy and communication systems so that they can continue to provide customers reliable, low-cost, and low-carbon service in this time of climate change, the company said.

The goals of the Climate Plan are:

  • Hardening GMP’s grid and restoration response in the face of increasing frequency of severe storms driven by the climate crisis to better serve customers
  • Better preparing the GMP grid to serve as the backbone for Vermont’s goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions and transition off fossil fuels

The company added that those goals will help customers by targeting the interrelated needs of reliability, which is about keeping the power on, and resiliency, which is about the ability to recover from certain types of disaster and failure.

GMP noted that work on its generation resources will focus on identifying and addressing risks to assets that are particularly susceptible to climate change, focusing primarily on accelerating the pace of upgrades at GMP’s high/significant hazard dam facilities based upon updated flood event modeling. Hydropower generation facility upgrades will be selected to improve GMP’s management of high/significant hazard dams, high-water events, and catastrophic event emergency operating protocols, the company said.

Climate Plan projects in the transmission and distribution (T&D) area will focus on accelerating the pace of system automation and hardening projects across GMP’s substation and distribution assets, utilizing resilient techniques. GMP added that for substation relocation, it has used floodplain/modeling analysis, 100- or 500-year events to determine which facilities should be relocated — or, in some cases, potentially rebuilt at higher elevation at the same site. The company said that those projects will be prioritized by addressing projects in 100-year flood plains, those with a history of flooding events coming first, with consideration given to the facilities and number of customers served by each substation.

Among other things, GMP discussed cost recovery, noting that during the term of the Regulation Plan, it will file an Annual Climate Plan Project Report with its June 1 Annual Base Rate Filing summarizing the Climate Plan capital and operations and maintenance (O&M) projects completed in the prior fiscal year, but which have not yet undergone final commission review and approval, together with a proposed recovery period for the regulatory asset associated with those projects.

The Climate Plan capital and O&M projects that are ultimately approved by the commission will be incorporated into the subsequent base rate change consistent with the recovery schedule approved by the commission, and will go into effect Oct. 1 of that year, the company said.