Phil Scott: My priorities are to make Vermont more affordable & to restore faith in state government. The idea that utilities have been allowed to pass executive bonuses onto ratepayers is an example of that erosion of trust.
Q: Vermont's two shareholder utility companies have operated under plans that adjust gas and electric rates without the accountability and transparency of a full rate case.
Phil Scott: I share concerns about alternative regulation. I will commit to examining the benefits and disadvantages of alternative regulation--with the priority of protecting ratepayers. Alternative regulation, when employed properly & transparently, can allow utilities to move more nimbly and this agility--when used for the benefit of ratepayers--can benefit the state's economy. It appears, however, that alternative regulation policy may need reform.
Sue Minter: I'll appoint a PSB [Public Service Board] Chair who will be a fair arbiter and will engage with communities to ensure they are heard in rule makings and in rate cases. The Department will prioritize transparency as it works with stakeholders and the public to increase community engagement in PSB proceedings. Heightened consideration will be given to the interests of low-income VTers, residential ratepayers, small businesses, and others that may not be adequately represented in rate cases.
Q: What measures will you take to assure that these plans are fair and reasonable?
Minter: I will have a goal to reduce rates whenever feasible and that on average we hold utility rate growth at or under the rate of inflation. This will help make energy more affordable and keep prices more stable, which is a benefit for residential customers and businesses.
We will need to address three regulatory areas that have the potential to derail our progress. These are utility pole regulations for fiber and telecommunication attachments, consolidated land use and environmental permits for the placement of poles, and long-term telecommunication lease agreements to erect infrastructure on state land and buildings.
Expanding passenger and freight rail in Vermont is also a top priority. My budget invests in rail upgrades to the western corridor, with the goal of returning passenger servic to Montreal as soon as possible. These investments bode well for Vermont's rail future.
As some states reject federal money for high-speed rail, I am also committed to working in partnership with my colleagues in New England and the Premier of Quebec with a vision of a high-speed rail line from New York to Montreal, with a spur to Boston. High speed rail is the transportation of our global future, and it is high time that Vermont gets on board.
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