State hopes power price break deal will keep IBM in Vermont


The Shumlin administration is backing a proposal to freeze electricity rates for IBM, the state's latest effort to support Vermont's largest single private for-profit employer.

The administration's deal between Green Mountain Power, IBM and Associated Industries of Vermont, a business trade group, comes as part of a proposal announced last week to cut GMP customers' rates by 2.46 percent starting Oct. 1.

The proposed three-year rate freeze for IBM is an incentive to keep the company in the state, state officials say. If electricity prices rise in the next three years, GMP will cover any costs associated with that rate freeze.

"The agreement provides stability and predictability for one of our most valued employers, and helps ensure that Vermont maintains a thriving center of innovation and technology well into the future," Gov. Peter Shumlin said Friday in a statement.

IBM employs roughly 4,000 people with an estimated payroll of $150 million to $200 million.

Chris Recchia, commissioner of the Department of Public Service, said the rate freeze was particularly important this year for IBM.

"It is no secret that they are struggling," Recchia said. "And a rate freeze for them was going be very helpful for additional planning in the coming years."

The Essex facility uses the most electricity of any business in the state -- as much power as the city of Burlington. "In 2013, we paid approximately $37.1 million for the electricity we purchased from GMP," said Nathan Fiske, an IBM site energy manager, in prefiled PSB testimony on May 30.

IBM is also exempt from paying the state's energy efficiency charge because it has adopted its own self-administered energy efficiency program.


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