Senator: No Pressure To Get Off Panel

by Dan Bustard

Sen. James Greenwood, R-Essex-Orleans, said there was no big push for him to make his recent decision to resign from the Joint Energy Committee of the state Legislature.

Citizens Utilities Co. is making good on its commitments before state regulators, the senator added, saying customers should see refunds, with interest, in their August electric bills.

"There was some concern of a conflict of interest, but there was no pressure either way," Greenwood said. "VPIRG (\7ermont Public Interest Research Group) was the only one to voice a concern." Greenwood serves as Vermont regulatory manager for Citizens Utilities, a job that requires him to make sure the company complies with the Public Service Board-ordered probation issued on June 16.

Since Greenwood would come before state regulators, and the joint committee was to take up recommendations on the restructuring of Vermont's electric utility industry this summer, the concern was raised by VPIRG.

The Senate completed its restructuring work last session, but the House did not. The joint committee is not a busy one usually, with the exception of this summer.

Greenwood spoke with the committee, which makes assignments within the Legislature, two weeks ago, and shortly after decided to resign from the Joint Energy Committee.

"I felt that rather than having to try and defend something, if the appearance of a conflict of interest is there, I would ask to be reassigned. And I did that," he said.

Citizens Utilities has come under much scrutiny, and the June 16 order lays out specific filings they must meet while staying on probation for the next five years. The utility was fined and had its allowable profit decreased by the Public Service Board.

"Citizens must do several things. My job is to make sure the filings are done on time, are accurate and complete. These are stipulations for us to keep our license," Greenwood said.

On Aug. 1, Citizens customers will see their refund on their electric bills. The refunds will be with interest, and if the balance owed is smaller than the refund, it will be carried over to the next bill, also with interest, Greenwood said.

Copyright 1997

The Caledonian-Record

http://www.hcr.net/cr/

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