In Rutland, Concern That CVPS Bid May Cost Jobs

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(Host) Some in Rutland worry how Rutland’s economy might be affected by the bidding competition for Central Vermont Public Service.

Rutland senator Kevin Mullin is urging shareholders of CVPS to reject an offer made by Gaz Metro.

As VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports, that’s because Mullin believes the deal will cost Rutland jobs.

(Kinzel) There are two Canadian companies vying to buy CVPS. One is Fortis. They’re based in Newfoundland, and they have a reputation of not making many changes in companies that they acquire. The second company is Gaz Metro. They currently own Green Mountain Power and Vermont Gas Systems.

The GMP offer targets nearly $150 million in savings over the next 10 years by consolidating some of the operations of GMP and CVPS.

This would be achieved, in part, by laying off some CVPS senior managers and reducing the workforce through attrition. Mullin says a job eliminated by attrition, is still a job that’s lost to the region.

(Mullin) "The net result for the Rutland region will be a large number of jobs that will no longer be there. And so I think that at this point Green Mountain Power is not best for the Rutland region."

(Kinzel) Mullin says he hopes to contact as many CVPS shareholders as possible in the next few days to ask them to look at what he calls "the big picture" aspect of this sale.

(Mullen) "What I’m asking them as shareholders to do is to ask the tough questions of their board and management team to make sure that this is just not a sale that benefits shareholders. And I’m not saying that’s wrong. I think shareholders should benefit. But I also would hope that they would not sell Rutland down the river doing a deal strictly because it’s at the highest return to the shareholders."

(Kinzel) GMP president Mary Powell sees this issue differently. She notes that only 25 percent of all CVPS employees work in Rutland headquarters, although a total of 375 of the utility’s employees work in the city. And she says some GMP jobs will also be phased out.

(Powell) "We’re looking at making this streamlining through both organizations. It’s not just Central Vermont Public Service. It’s also harnessing those changes at Green Mountain. So it’s really premature to say exactly where those would be until we do that work."

(Kinzel) And Powell argues that providing Vermont businesses with lower electric rates is a good way to help create jobs throughout the state.

(Powell) "I think this is really about at the end of the day a net gain in jobs. Because I really see that the most important role that we can play as utilities are to be effective job enablers. And by that I mean if we focus on keeping our rates as cost effective as possible that will help economic prosperity in this state."

(Kinzel) The CVPS Board of Directors is expected to choose one of these bids in the next week or so.

For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier

(Host) And we should note that Mary Powell is also a member of VPR’s board.

This story has been updated to reflect the following correction:

In an earlier version of this story, Green Mountain Power told VPR that 125 CVPS employees work in Rutland. GMP has corrected that to note that 125 work in corporate headquarters in Rutland and a total of 375 work at all of the utility’s facilities in the city.

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