Deregulation fears in Vermont.


The first hearing outside Washington on federal regulation of the changing electricity market drew mixed testimony. At the mid September meeting in Burlington, Vermont, local people -- including some from the wind industry -- warned that deregulation could mean more black-outs, more pollution and less attention for rural areas. "Change means opportunity, but it also leads to uncertainty," said Bob Sherwin of Atlantic Orient, a long time wind industry member. He joined a parade of state regulators, utility members and lobbyists in voicing his opinion. Sherwin said power companies might fight over densely populated areas but neglect other parts of the country. "This, I believe, will lead to poor service, high costs and unreliable energy for those that remain," he concluded. The US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources was taking testimony on deregulation. Others were also concerned that market forces would not be enough to keep the lights on everywhere, noted the Burlington Free Press newspaper. "Market forces won't do it," said Richard Chapman of Vermont Electric Power Corp. "Don't believe it. It's simplistic and it's dangerous." Vermont is known as a pro-environment state.