Friday, June 15, 2012

Gaz Metro merger goes forward. Ratepayers stiffed.

Gaz Metro has everything it wanted.  The Green Mountain Power/Central Vermont Public Service merger was approved by the Public Service Board today. The merged companies don't have to give $21 million back to the ratepayers, as they had promised, and as AARP hoped would happen.  The state legislature wanted to intervene in favor of the ratepayers, but they didn't. Governor Shumlin got his ducks in order and the legislators reversed their stands on the issue. They didn't "quibble" (the Governor's words) about the $21 million.  I blogged about the Governor's persuasive powers in Money Settles in Gaz Metro Pockets, Dust Settles Under the Dome.

Yes, the Public Service Board (PSB) ruled to give Gaz Metro pretty much everything it wanted.  You can read the ruling itself here, and a short Alan Panebaker article  in Vermont Digger here. This is the same PSB that allowed another Gaz Metro company to charge Vermont rate-payers for building a gas pipeline, instead of funding the pipeline with Gaz Metro money.

However, when it comes right down to it, I don't blame the PSB.  The Vermont Department of Public Service (DPS) is supposed to be the ratepayers advocate in proceedings before the PSB.  DPS is supposed to protect the ratepayer and it does not protect them. Seems to me that DPS doesn't defend the ratepayers in issues about money--especially money for a Gaz Metro company.   Since nobody is on the ratepayers' side, everything is coming up roses for Gaz Metro.


Travelogue for the Universe said...

Are these the same people who do not want corporations to have voting rights? I wish I had the same clout as Gaz. Thanks once again for being such a fair and accurate reporter. Now see who gets to do the "energy efficiency tasks". You bet someone will make money from that. Tha ratepayers in the ads will not make money-I will not forget.mary

Meredith Angwin said...

Thank you Mary. The energy efficiency money will almost certainly be administered by Efficiency Vermont, the same people with a surcharge on your electricity bill. The twenty-one million is supposed to become a revolving loan fund...ratepayers can borrow from it to improve their property by efficiency improvements. Since people can usually borrow for home improvements anyhow, it has never been clear to me (or to the AARP) how this borrowing-fund is any kind of payback to the ratepayers. I don't think they even promise below-market rates or anything like that.