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1980’s in Review

  • Debate revolved around the construction of the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant and the Co-op’s investment in nuclear energy after the REA gave approval for the co-op to buy a share of Seabrook in early 1981. The Board also voted to commit the co-op to 3.0 Mw of capacity in another nuclear power plant, the Millstone #3 unit.
  • In 1981, John Rohr left after 3 years as manager and Robert Toombs was hired to assume the position on June 29, 1981. That same year, a huge ice and snowstorm hit the Co-op system in late February.
  • In June,1981 Washington Electric Co-op (WEC) filed an 11.47% increase in rates and the Board voted to select part ownership of Seabrook and Millstone commitments with REA funding.
  • WEC along with Vermont Electric Cooperative launched a campaign to remove co-ops from the jurisdiction of Public Service Board (PSB) rate making, and introduced an appeal to the Vermont Legislature. The co-op explores hydro sites in the co-op region.  Montpelier Hydro Co. offers sale of output from Wrightsville dam subject to an acceptable contract.
  • In 1982, the Board approved signing of the Vermont Support Agreement for capacity from the Quebec/VT interconnection transmission line. The PSB denied the co-op’s proposed investment in Seabrook and the Washington Electric Co-op Board voted to appeal that decision to the Vermont Supreme Court.
  • A petition was filed with Vermont PSB to halt any further funding for Seabrook 2 and study the future of Seabrook. Meanwhile, a loan application to REA was approved for Millstone participation.
  • The Co-op sought ownership of the Wrightsville Hydro Power Source. The Board approved filing with REA for financing the Wrightsville Project. WEC purchased the Wrightsville Project from Montpelier Hydro. The Co-op began the process of establishing a Generation Transmission Co-op to accommodate our hydro development. The Board also studied the alternative power supply from “cow power” in the form of methane.
  • Co-op began to receive share of Ontario Hydro through Vermont Public Power Supply for years, representing 5 Mw or 20 to 25% of the co-op power requirement. The increase in the cost of Millstone drew further evaluation from the Washington Electric Co-op Board.
  • Thirty-five percent of the co-op system was affected by heavy wet snow on March 11, 1983. That same year, the PSB approved the co-op’s purchase of the Wrightsville Project. The Co-op filed a request to increase rates by 6.8%.
  • The Co-op began payments for the decommissioning fund for Vermont Yankee. The REA approved a loan in the amount of 3.2 million to construct the Wrightsville site. Construction began in the spring of 1982.
  • An additional 1.8%, increase in rates over and above the 6.84% previously in effect was approved by the PSB to recognize recovery of Vermont Yankee’s unscheduled shutdown.
  • Board elected to double the Right-Of-Way Program in 1984.  Contractor Crane Service of Morrisville was awarded the construction contract for the Wrightsville Project.
  • April 1984, New York Power Authority decided to reduce sales of  low cost power to Vermont, declining to 4 Mw (down from 15 Mw).  The Co-op agreed to a lease of state owned land at the Wrightsville Dam area.  The dedication of the McNeil Woodchip Generation Plant was made in May 1984.  An engineering firm was hired to study the McNeil Woodchip Generation Station as a source of power for Washington Electric Co-op.
  • In 1984, The board continued to negotiate the purchase of the Moretown Hydro site. The WEC Generation and Transmission Committee held an organizational meeting, electing officers and taking action necessary to complete other business to make the organization viable. The new Generation and Transmissions Committee at WEC proposed to take financial responsibility for the development of the Moretown Hydro site, subject to approval of REA and Vermont PSB.  The Generation and Transmission’s new REA name designation is “VT 13 Aiken” in honor of George Aiken’s contribution to WEC and the REA Program.
  • Public utilities sued for reallocation of PASNY Power, the preferred clause in the Niagara Redevelopment Act of 1957 as the basis of intent of Congress to allocate this power to co-ops and municipals.
  • In 1985, The Vermont PSB gave a conditional “yes” to the co-op agreement with MMWEC and the Seabrook power arrangement. If “full funding and regulation approval are not secured by all Seabrook participants by April 15th, then Vermont utilities will be ordered to pull out of the project.” The co-op is a participant, through Vermont Public Power Supply Authority, in a project call “Highgate” to deliver Canadian power.
  • The Board voted a sum of money to be donated to the Governor Aiken Lecture Service and vote to name the Moretown hydro site the “George D. Aiken Hydro Dam.” Governor Aiken passed away on November 19, 1984. The Vermont PSB and REA are reluctant to approve purchase of Moretown Hydro Project.
  • On May 29, 1985, the Board of Washington Electric Cooperative voted to file a 23.55% rate increase with the PSB.  The PSB turned down the co-op’s attempt to purchase and construct the Moretown Hydro.
  • Seabrook payments for interest expense could begin in January 1986. Vermont Yankee’s scheduled outage of 32 plus weeks will cost the co-op approximately $550,000. The Department of Public Service filed a lawsuit representing 6 participants in an attempt to invalidate the Seabrook contract.
    The co-op Rate Case before the PSB had opposition from the Vermont PSB and 5 co-op member interveners. At issue was the treatment of MMWEC (Seabrook) interest payments due to begin in January 1986.  The Board elected to hire a local law firm to represent WEC and five other utilities in the Seabrook lawsuit brought by the Vermont Department of Public Service in its attempt to void the Seabrook contracts by participants in Seabrook contracts.
  • The co-op sent a questionnaire to members to determine if members were interested in satellite television reception.
  • The interveners gave a position paper in the Co-op Currents about the co-ops current Rate Case before the PSB. In addition, the co-op should pursue greater involvement in the conservation effort. The remaining item is the delay of payments to Seabrook of interest. The Board voted to place interest payments for Seabrook in escrow until the PSD suit is settled.
  • The town of East Montpelier voted not to pursue purchase of the co-op office complex.
  • The Board President announced the formation of an Advisory Committee made up of 12 co-op members. The Board approved a settlement of an agreement with the Wrightsville Recreation District. Energy Solutions was hired to advise the board of possible programs to resolve the question of future power needs with an alternative in “Energy Efficient Options”.  Among those alternatives is refrigeration replacement, residential lighting, security lights, domestic water heating, electric heat and school energy efficient programs. These programs could reduce demand by 20% and help reduce the co-op’s need for new power supplies.  Energy Solutions are in the process of seeking financial support for the options proposed to WEC. They seek $3 to 4 million to fund a full scale national demonstrations project. The board and management fully support the effort.
  • A Superior Court judge upheld, in 1987, the co-op and five other Vermont utilities’ position that they did not violate any loans in entering the MMWEC/Seabrook Contract. It stated they were not required to seek voter approval for the contract.
  • A board member introduced a resolution calling for halt to nuclear power development with efforts made to provide a safe future in reliable energy supply. The board tabled consideration of the resolution until the February meeting. The budget called for no rate increases in 1987. Refinancing of the McNeil Woodchips Plant saved WEC $206,000.
  • The co-op voted to contract for 2.5Mw of Quebec power that flows through the Highgate site. The Board approved a resolution calling for the federal government to stop nuclear power development.
  • Co-op sought a Department of Energy grant to pay for a statistical survey of a member economic feasibility study, program design and one or two test pilot programs in the energy efficiency supply option proposed by Energy Solutions. Seabrook payments will increase due to MMWEC being denied refinancing of short-term debt for tax exempt, verses taxable basis. The co-op will be assessed at the rate of $91,000 per month beginning in 1988.
  • On Sunday, October 4, 1987, a snowstorm struck Vermont causing severe damage to Co-op lines. Crews from Hardwick, VT and New York co-op assisted in restoration of power.
  • The amount of the Seabrook loan is $3,338,000. It was projected that a new contract with Ontario Hydro will save co-op $600,000 over 5 years.  It was reported, by the manager, that if REA/CFC financing was not available, an increase in rates would be in the 25% range.
  • The co-op sold 20 acres to Huntington Homes to build a 76,000 square foot manufacturing plant next to the co-op garage complex on Route 14.
  • In 1988, VEPPSA and eight other utilities joined signing a $ 5.5 billion power contract with Hydro Quebec. A letter to MMWEC on February 18, 1988 expressed that they (the Co-op Board) would suspend payments on the contract. The REA loan request for financing MMWEC debt was rejected. An overall increase of 6.21% filed with PSB, became effective on July 20, 1988.
  • The Co-op Trustees voted to suspend payments to MMWEC on February 13, 1988, citing the impossibility of the co-op to continue.  The Moretown Hydro Energy Company will develop Moretown 8. The output will be to Vermont Power Exchange and wheeled through co-op systems.
  • Together with Hardwick Electric, the co-op is seeking a Federal Grant to bring television opportunities to rural Vermont. Also plans were developed  to apply for a grant with the Department of Energy for $700,000 to assist in implementation of Innovative Demand Side Energy Management Techniques.
  • The PSB, ordered Vermont utilities to participate and develop a program of Least Cost Planning and Demand Side Management. VEPPSA, WEC or small utilities were allowed to develop their own plan with extended time to comply.
  • The Board authorized the WEC attorney and general manager to work with the Vermont Electric Cooperative (VEC) counterparts to negotiate with MMWEC on options in regard to WEC/VEC participation/ obligations to the Seabrook Project 6. The Vermont Supreme Court on September 27, 1988 declared the Seabrook contract illegal, which could save the Co-op $43 million.  MMWEC asked the Vermont Supreme Court to reconsider the Seabrook decision. The Supreme Court on February 28, 1988 denied MMWEC request to open the case. The Co-op trustees voted to cease membership in the Vermont Public Power Supply Authority. MMWEC sued WEC, two co-op trustees, a former manager and several attorneys and law firms (who had represented the co-op) for $16 million for their expenses in the Seabrook law suits. The co-op has filed a suit against MMWEC to recover the $1 million that was paid to them in a prior period.
  • The co-op district incurred a heavy rain and flooding on August 4 and 5th, 1988. One home, along with roads, was washed out.
  • The co-op started considering a joint effort in a collaborative process to address the PSD orders for investigation into Least Cost Planning and Demand Side Management.
  • In 1989, WEC officially joins a collaborative effort to design New Energy Conservation and Demand-Side Management Program that may significantly reduce electric usage.  WEC and Vermont Public Power Supply Authority joined in an analysis of a concept to buy and sell power through a single entity.
  • In 1989, the Board approved filing for a 7.1% increase in rates.  The WEC and Vermont Electric Co-op collaborative group selected Vermont Energy Investment Corporation as the contractor to research energy saving possibilities.