Vermonters for a Clean Environment joins Voices for Sensible Energy Solutions, Vermont Citizens for Safe Energy and the Town of New Haven in opposition to the VELCO Northwest Reliability Project.  Vermonters for a Clean Environment first became aware of VELCO's power line upgrade proposal in 1999 when it was packaged under a different name, The Northwest Interconnect.  In that incarnation, the goal of the project was to move 1150 megawatts more power through Vermont to serve southern New England and provide substantial profits for VELCO.  Now, VELCO makes the case that the larger transmission lines are necessary in order to assure the reliability of Vermont's electric grid.  VCE is not convinced by VELCO's submissions to the Public Service Board that these upgrades are necessary, and we are concerned that the greater goal is to turn Vermont into a conduit for electricity for the profit of utility shareholders.  As with the sale of Vermont Yankee, this power line upgrade will serve to place Vermont's electricity assets under the control of Federal rather than State regulators, further distancing Vermonters from any opportunities for controlling our energy future.  VCE believes it is in Vermonters' best interests to reduce or eliminate the risks posed by this project and focus on demand side management, distributed generation, and new technologies.  VELCO's proposal for more, bigger power lines that might eventually lead to even more and even bigger power lines is the wrong direction for Vermont's energy future. -- August 6, 2003