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GMP To Hike Rates, Regulators Note Impact On Businesses And Fixed-Income Customers

The exterior of the Green Mountain Power building in Colchester
Henry Epp
/
VPR File
State regulators are allowing Green Mountain Power, the state's largest electric utility, to hike rates next month.

State utility regulators have approved a nearly 3% rate increase for Green Mountain Power. GMP spokeswoman Kristin Kelly said rates will rise Oct. 1 by around 2.7%, once the company factors in the reductions made by regulators.

Last week the Public Utility Commission sided with the Vermont Department of Public Service – which represents ratepayers – and lowered the amount GMP can collect from customers for projected property taxes and certain power costs.

Kelly said the PUC approved a plan earlier this year that should protect customers for three years.

"As part of this regulation plan, GMP is taking on more risk, financial risk, and locking down a lot of our costs, most of our costs, in order to deliver a cost-effective low and steady rate path for all of our customers," she said.

More from VPR — Regulators Approve GMP Plan That Offers Both Flexibility And Risk [May 28]

GMP had originally asked for a 2.92% rate increase. Business groups complained recently though that because a temporary bill credit expires next month, and other costs – such as rebuilding from major storm damage – will be rolled into bills, the actual combined total impact on bills will be between 16% and 20% over three years.

"Considered by itself, a 2.92% rate increase over three years may not appear to be a heavy burden," the businesses said in comments gathered by the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. "Considered more completely – and therefore more accurately – the increase would compound the longer-term price disadvantage endured by Vermont employers."

In its Aug. 29 ruling, the Public Utility Commission seemed to acknowledge that point:

"While these changes are not under review in this proceeding, The Commission recognizes that the actual increase in energy bills experienced by ratepayers on October 1, 2019 will be greater than 2.92%. The Commission acknowledges that these increases will be a burden for all customers, particularly residential customers on fixed incomes and businesses that use large amounts of energy."

However, Kelly noted that Green Mountain Power's rates continue to be the second-lowest in New England.

"If you look over two decades, GMP's rates have tracked below the rate of inflation despite rising cost pressures," she said.

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