The Stowe Electric Department is warning developers that a short supply of electricity could affect future projects. That’s raising the stakes for construction of a new power line for the whole region.
VPR’s John Dillon reports.
(Dillon) The electric department in Stowe hopes a new transmission line will be ready to serve the region by November, 2006.
Department manager, Ellen Tillotson, says that unless the line is built on schedule, the municipal utility may not be able to guarantee service to new developments. The 115-kilovolt line is proposed by the Vermont Electric Power Company. It would run from Duxbury to Stowe.
(Tillotson) “It’s going to take us down to the wire on this system. And if we don’t have a transmission line here – a new transmission line to bring more power in, then, you know, if we can’t serve the load, we may get to that point.”
(Dillon) Stowe and the Lamoille County region have faced a transmission bottleneck for years. The Electric Department has dealt with the constraints by requiring that the Stowe Mountain Resort shift its snowmaking from electric to diesel power during periods of high demand.
But Tillotson says the situation is now more severe. She said that without the additional transmission line, new development at the resort that goes beyond its current master plan might not get the electricity it needs.
(Tillotson) “We’ve told the Mountain Company if doesn’t come in, we’re not going to be able to serve the load.”
(Dillon) Resort planning director Rob Apple says there’s enough power to serve the development that’s now planned. This includes new snowmaking and 400 new units of resort housing. Apple says the power shortage is a regional problem.
(Apple) “The town of Stowe is only one piece of it. This is an issue that affects Hardwick, Morrisville, Johnson, other communities in Lamoille County, not just Stowe. Now is there a higher level of growth occurring in Stowe? Absolutely, in terms of residential development, commercial development than in some of the other towns. But this same issue clearly affects the Hardwicks and the Morrisvilles.”
(Dillon) The state Public Service Board is now reviewing the 20 million dollar transmission line. The project is controversial, with some Stowe residents arguing that the line should be buried to reduce its impact on their neighborhoods.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon.