State’s Largest Utility Sees Change In Leadership

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(Host) Central Vermont Public Service marked a change of the guard today at its annual meeting. Outgoing President Bob Young was honored for his 24 years with the company and new president Larry Reilly took over.  

VPR’s Nina Keck spoke to both men about the state’s largest utility.

(Keck) Bob Young says that while the time is right for him to retire, leaving CVPS is bittersweet and he’s proud of what he’s accomplished.

(Young) "I think this company performs very differently today than it did when I arrived 24 years ago –  we’ve developed a real customer focus -and not only that but we developed a set of values  by which we’d all live within the organization.  And I think it really helped turn the company around, improve what we  did for customers and improve what we did for shareholders as well."

(Keck) Last year, Forbes magazine named CVPS one of the most trustworthy firms in the country. But while customer satisfaction and the company’s credit rating are up, CVPS still faces challenges including aging infrastructure and uncertainties over Vermont Yankee, which supplies CVPS with about 90 megawatts of low carbon low cost fuel. Bob Young and his successor say there are good options.

(Young) "We know there’s lots of power out there. So if Vermont Yankee is not running, we’ll go to the marketplace and replace it I think with very little rate impact."

(Keck) CVPS currently buys most of power outside the state, but Bob Young says the company is considering building a new gas fired power plant in northwestern Vermont near the gas pipeline.

(Young) "When you put generation near load you have the most stable system you can have. Secondly it would provide tax base and jobs so it’s something we’re seriously considering and if it happens it would probably be 2014-2015 kind of time frame."       

(Keck) By that time, CVPS will have nearly finished a major capital investment initiative to replace its aging infrastructure. This year alone the utility will spend close to $100 million on the effort – which also includes installation of new smart grid technology. That’s a new two-way meter system that will allow customers to see in real time how much power they’re using and what they’re paying for it. Incoming President Larry Reilly says it will help both customers and the utility save money.

Reilly says unlike his predecessor, he doesn’t have to turn around a company that’s in trouble – but he says CVPS can’t be complacent.

(Reilly) "The challenge here is to actually build on the success of the past and become the best small utility in America."

(Keck) CVPS customers will likely benefit but they will also be paying the bill for the hundreds of millions spent on upgrades and utility officials say that from 2009 to 2014 – customers may see their rates go up by as much as 25 percent.

For VPR news, I’m Nina Keck   

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