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Gorillas, Ghosts and Greed

If the merger is approved, GMP and its parent company, Montréal-based Gaz Métro, would control roughly 70 percent of the state's electric wholesale, retail and distribution markets. "No one is likely to examine it with the healthy skepticism and independence necessary in a deal of this significance to the state," Burak told Fair Game.

Is the cozy relationship between the administration of Gov. Peter Shumlin and Green Mountain Power just a little too cozy?

State Sen. Vince Illuzzi (R-Essex/Orleans) thinks so. On Monday, Illuzzi delivered a petition signed by 30 Vermonters to the Vermont Public Service Board, the quasi-judicial body that regulates state utilities, asking it to appoint a special independent counsel to represent ratepayers to review the sale of Central Vermont Public Service to GMP. That job would normally fall to the Department of Public Service, an arm of the executive branch.

Illuzzi, who says he organized the petition as a ratepayer rather than as a senator, believes the intertwined relationship between Team Shumlin and GMP compromise the administration's ability to be a true consumer advocate in the merger case.

Backing him up are Burlington attorneys Michael Burak and Samuel Press, both of whom worked as DPS consumer advocates in the 1980s. The pair argue that Shumlin's full-throated support for the merger has compromised DPS' ability to be objective and independent.

As Fair Game has previously reported, Team Shumlin is practically a wholly owned subsidiary of Green Mountain Power.

To wit: Three members of... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Is the cozy relationship between the administration of Gov. Peter Shumlin and Green Mountain Power just a little too cozy?

State Sen. Vince Illuzzi (R-Essex/Orleans) thinks so. On Monday, Illuzzi delivered a petition signed by 30 Vermonters to the Vermont Public Service Board, the quasi-judicial body that regulates state utilities, asking it to appoint a special independent counsel to represent ratepayers to review the sale of Central Vermont Public Service to GMP. That job would normally fall to the Department of Public Service, an arm of the executive branch.

Illuzzi, who says he organized the petition as a ratepayer rather than as a senator, believes the intertwined relationship between Team Shumlin and GMP compromise the administration's ability to be a true consumer advocate in the merger case.

Backing him up are Burlington attorneys Michael Burak and Samuel Press, both of whom worked as DPS consumer advocates in the 1980s. The pair argue that Shumlin's full-throated support for the merger has compromised DPS' ability to be objective and independent.

As Fair Game has previously reported, Team Shumlin is practically a wholly owned subsidiary of Green Mountain Power.

To wit: Three members of Shumlin's transition team - Elizabeth Bankowski, Kathy Hoyt and Steve Terry - had direct ties to the utility; GMP CEO Mary Powell chaired Shumlin's inaugural committee; GMP exec Neale Lunderville has been hired to head up the state's recovery efforts in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene; and DPS Commissioner Liz Miller's husband is a partner in the law firm that represents GMP before the Public Service Board.

If the merger is approved, GMP and its parent company, Montréal-based Gaz Métro, would control roughly 70 percent of the state's electric wholesale, retail and distribution markets.

"No one is likely to examine it with the healthy skepticism and independence necessary in a deal of this significance to the state," Burak told Fair Game.

DPS Commissioner Miller vehemently disagrees. In an email to Fair Game before Illuzzi filed his petition, Miller said Shumlin - despite his support of the merger - expects the department "to do its job to ensure that any merger is in the public interest and serves the general good of the state of Vermont.

"There are a number of aspects of the merger petition that I expect the department will strongly advocate for that are different than the position taken by the companies," noted Miller. Those include ratepayer benefits, total savings and the ownership of the Vermont Electric Power Company, the state's transmission network.

Press is skeptical about whether the merger truly serves the "general good of the state of Vermont" given the concentration of power, and profits, going out of state.

"An important debate should be had about whether Vermont wants to structure its economy around one mega-utility," said Press. "The only thing worse than having two 800-pound gorillas is having only one."


Source: http://www.7dvt.com/2011gor...

OCT 19 2011
https://www.windaction.org/posts/32246-gorillas-ghosts-and-greed
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