The private company that operates Vermont’s electric transmission network will soon get new board members appointed to represent the public.
The change is happening as a result of the merger between Vermont’s two largest utilities. The Shumlin Administration insisted – and the utilities agreed – that the new merged company would not hold a majority interest in the Vermont Electric Power Company.
So a new non-profit corporation was created to ensure more public involvement in the operation of Vermont’s electric grid. The corporation’s board met for the first time on Tuesday. Pat Moulton Powden is deputy commerce secretary and a member of the seven-member non-profit board.
She says the non-profit corporation has two main missions. The first is to select three public members for the VELCO board.
"We agreed we would get that process launched as soon as possible," she says. "We will be doing some press and some announcements and some advertising seeking candidates for the VELCO board with hope that we would have folks submitting their interest by the end of August."
VELCO Vice President Kerrick Johnson says the new public-private governance structure represents uncharted territory for the transmission company.
"We think that the caliber of individual that they will send to our board of directors will actually be able to improve the conversation," he says. "That’s the way we’re looking at this. We’re looking at this as something that will help make us better."
The other job for the new non-profit corporation is to disperse an estimated $1 million annually for low income energy projects. The money will come from the non-profit’s share of VELCO’s stock dividends.