Anticipating NIMBYism, Vermont Regulator Seeks Help from Consultants

Project developers throughout the U.S. frequently must manage resistance to new energy infrastructure from local communities.  In an unusual twist, a state regulator that foresees potential energy shortages, the Vermont Department of Public Service (DPS), is seeking to hire consultants to help manage the ever-present "not-in-my-backyard" sentiment that continues to thwart energy planning in many parts of New England.

Two-thirds of Vermont's power contracts expire between 2012 and 2017.  These include long-term deals with Hydro-Quebec and the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.  While Vermont's utilities are responsible for replacing these resources, the DPS wishes to engage with the public to help prepare a pathway for the eventual energy supply choices for 2012 and beyond.  The DPS' solicitation is seeking consultants to assist with educating the public about the realities of power supply through measures such as polling, public meetings, web-based communications, and direct information sharing with citizen groups in an effort to discover areas of consensus before advancing an energy supply plan.