The Vermont Public Service Board approved a merger of the state’s two largest electric utilities in June and did not enforce an order to pay back ratepayers who bailed one of the companies out 11 years ago. It instead endorsed the utility’s plan to return this value through efficiencies and weatherization programs.
See Also: Affordable Utilities Now
AARP’s very visible and public campaign on behalf of ratepayers raised awareness and loud public outcry on this issue in the first half of the year. It spurred a strong response from legislators and a lopsided Senate vote to return funds to those who bailed the company out. Despite the ruling, a host of legislators who sided with ratepayers are gearing up to take steps in the next session to prevent this from happening again. AARP gained considerable visibility across the state throughout this campaign as a strong advocate for ratepayers/consumers.
AARP Vermont is committed to working with legislators in the next session to develop a legislative strategy to reform this regulatory process in a way that gives citizens a voice before the Public Service Board (utility regulators) and enables lawmakers to better represent the people in the regulatory approval process. Some 36,000 AARP members are directly affected.
AARP Vermont State Director Greg Marchildon said this about the Public Service Board decision:
“Today was a great day for Gaz Metro and CVPS shareholders and a lousy day for the ratepayers that bailed CVPS out when it was in financial crisis. Company shareholders and executives will reap $150 million in profit from this merger while 135,000 Vermont ratepayers get nothing. In fact they will be paying more rather than getting paid back. AARP and its 36,000 members in the CV territory are very disappointed in this decision. Early this year some 15,000 CV ratepayers submitted petitions to the PSB asking for a rebate and hundreds more called the Governor’s office requesting his support.
A deal is a deal and it is clear the public overwhelmingly supported a payback of ratepayer funds. AARP Vermont will look closely at appeal options and we are certain that our Legislature will be taking a hard look at how to better represent Vermonters in this process going forward. Our lawmakers made a clear statement in this past session that ratepayers were being treated unfairly under the proposed utility plan. We will support their efforts to address this consumer issue next year.”