Vince Illuzzi petitioned the Vermont Public Service Board to appoint an independent attorney to review the pending merger of Green Mountain Power and Central Vermont Public Service into a monster super-utility.
Illuzzi argues that PSB commissioner Elizabeth Miller has too many conflicts of interest to objectively represent the interests of Vermonters. She does. Her husband is the managing partner of the law firm representing Green Mountain power and she is appointed by Governor Shumlin, a vicious Machiavellian and avowed supporter of the deal.
As Illuzzi rightly points out, Miller couldn't possibly go against Shumlin on this and the involvement of her husband's firm wreaks of impropriety.
Illuzzi is dead on and rightly challenges the administration and PSB on behalf of Vermonters. We don't expect Miller's PSB to handle the request appropriately, but we applaud Vince for publicly stating what people paying attention have long known. Namely that Vermont is getting railroaded by the Shumlin administration on all his ill-conceived energy plans.
His petition is important as it draws attention to these dangerous deals.
The GMP-CVPS merger will create a Vermont monopoly. Smaller utility companies and co-operatives will have no control over power purchases, rate-setting or VELCO -- the state's transmission utility that is the crown-jewel of the deal for GazMetro (GMP's parent company). Once merged, GMP will control 72 percent of VELCO which gives them unfettered access to lucrative power markets in southern New England. They will have no incentive to control costs on behalf of Vermont ratepayers.
Shumlin came out in frenzied support of GMP's takeover bid almost before the announcement of it was made public. He has overtly compromised the PSB in the exact same manner that he did during the PSB review of GMP's Lowell Wind project -- through the not-so-subtle combination of intimation and intimidation. He forced his Agency of Natural Resources Head, Deb Markowitz, to make a pie-eyed public statement of support for the wind project while it was sitting on Miller's desk. The message -- get these wind towers approved for my buddies at GMP.... or else.
Of course now the ANR, as if it really cared about natural resources, is all over the Lowell ridge lines, stopping work and threatening fines for the damage GMP is wreaking on the delicate ecosystem there. We find that slightly ironic but totally nauseating.
In the end we know that Illuzzi's petition will be ignored and the GMP-CVPS merger will sail through the PSB. We think the deal is rotten for Vermont and the strong-arming from Shumlin and GMP is grotesque. Still we thank Vince for standing up and telling it like it is.