Finally, legislators are raising their eyebrows at CVPS/GMC's bald-faced attempt to bury $21 million that it owes Vermont ratepayers in a corporate gobbledygook plan that is designed to save it from the moral and legal obligation to return the money to ratepayers who bailed them out 10 years ago. Back then, CVPS desperately needed the money to stave off financial collapse. To get it, the utility promised to pay it back to the ratepayers, and crossed its heart and hoped to die if it didn't.

CVPS must have crossed its fingers, too, because, it is now on the verge of a very profitable sale to a Canadian power conglomerate. It is also on the verge of a sellout of Vermont ratepayers. CVPS has fashioned a substitute plan to pay the $21 million back, not as it promised, with cash, but by building it into new, undefined operational power delivery efficiencies over the next few years. Way down in the fine print, legislators just discovered that Green Mountain Power, CVPS's proposed new owner (owned, itself, by Canadian GazMetro), will be authorized to recover the $21 million through rate increases in the future.

Responding to a press question, Gov. Peter Shumlin, whose Department of Public Service negotiated the agreement based on a similar one made when Gaz Metro bought Green Mountain Power five years ago, defended it Wednesday. He indicated that he hadn't been fully aware that GMP could go back to ratepayers to recover the expense and bumbled back in irritation, "I'm managing all kinds of issues. I don't get into the weeds about every detail."

That's worth repeating. "I'm managing all kinds of issues. I don't get into the weeds about every detail." Are we to believe that he paid no attention to canceling a $21 million debt through corporate verbal legerdemain, when he and his administration composed the document that did it? That's political hogwash.

CVPS/GMP's substitute for payment is a smoke and mirrors con job. Peter Shumlin, best friend to the biggest utilities in Vermont (and, now, Canada), and House Speaker Shap Smith, Shumlin's chief lackey in the House, are playing ball with CVPS/GMC. Sen. John Campbell, Senate President Pro-Tem, disagrees with them and wants the money to go back to ratepayers. If Campbell prevails in this internecine fight, there may be some light at the end of the tunnel. To this point, it has been cloaked in deceit. The whole thing is pretty shoddy.


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