SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt.- Just days after the start of what’s been dubbed a ‘global climate strike’, Vermont activists are outraged. The state’s Public Utility Commission has green lighted a Canadian power deal involving two Vermont utilities.
Several activists setup shop outside Vermont Gas in South Burlington Monday.
“Maybe they were trying to get it under the radar,” said Julie Macuga, 350VT Extreme Energy Field Organizer.
On Friday PUC OK’d Noverco, a Canadian investment holding company to buy the remaining shares of Vermont Gas and Green Mountain Power from its current co-owner Valener Inc..
Protestors are concerned the deal would allow a pipeline company called Enbridge to have greater influence over Vermont’s utilities since it owns nearly 40% of Noverco.
“Enbridge could try to use Vermont Gas and Green Mountain Power’s land to build new pipelines,” said Macuga.
In its approval, PUC board members noted a majority of public comments they received opposed the deal. Most were concerned how the acquisition would hinder Vermont’s ability to respond to climate change.
“We’re situated between major markets, so our concern is that Vermont would be used as a conduit to import and export frack gas or oil,” said Macuga.
Enbridge provided Local 22 & Local 44 News with the following statement:
“Enbridge’s role is to deliver the energy we all need for our daily lives – to heat our homes and power our industry and economy. We recognize there are different points of view and support a respectful and constructive dialogue on all energy issues.”
“This transaction has no impact on our customers or our operations here in Vermont,” said Beth Parent, Vermont Gas spokeswoman. “We’ll continue to operate independently.”
Right now the state is investigating the construction of Vermont Gas’ 41-mile long natural gas pipeline.
Company officials say there are no plans to extend it past Addison County.
“We are working very closely with our regulators and all of the interveners to ensure that that this investigation is open and as transparent,” said Parent.