The merger of Green Mountain Power and Central Vermont Public Service will result in the elimination of about 116 positions through attrition and retirements over the next five years, according to a document submitted to the Public Service Board from the utilities.
The workforce of the merged company will be reduced by an additional 23 positions when the smart meter program is implemented.
Gaz Metro, a Montreal-based corporation, which owns Green Mountain Power, has offered to buy CVPS, the state’s largest electric utility. The combined company will serve eight out of 10 Vermonters. The merger deal is now under review by the Public Service Board and is expected to be approved in May.
Gaz Metro estimates the labor savings to be worth about $110 million over a 10-year period. That figure is part of an overall estimate of $226 million in savings, about 59 percent of which would go to ratepayers. About $82 million in savings in the first five years would be used by Gaz Metro to cover the costs of the acquisition of CVPS, according to utility officials and PSB documents.
The average employee for CVPS makes $71,428, not including executive pay; the average Green Mountain Power worker earns $77,383, excluding executive wages, according to documents filed with the Public Service Board.
CVPS now employs 532 workers; GMP has 206 employees. In all 715 Vermonters work for both companies. That total would be reduced to 599 after five years.
The two utilities have overlapping service areas, and the merger will create an opportunity to eliminate redundant operations and maintenance services.
The workforce reductions will not be made through layoffs, according to Dorothy Schnure, communications director for Green Mountain Power, but through attrition and expected retirements. About 40 percent of the workforce would be eligible to retire within the next five years, though the company expects a number of employees to continue working past retirement age, she said. The utility will not offer incentives to retiring workers, Schnure said.
“This is not a typical pattern where a company comes in and makes immediate changes to the workforce,” Schnure said. “The changes will take place more slowly. It’s more the Vermont way to do it, without the layoffs.”
The headquarters for CVPS is in Rutland and city officials have worried that all the cuts would be made in central Vermont.
Schnure says Green Mountain Power, based in Colchester, made a pledge to Rutland “to make sure the decrease is proportional.” According to the chart, 47 jobs would come from CVPS and 27 from Green Mountain Power. An additional 44 jobs would be eliminated and the locations for those job cuts has not been broken down in the chart. None of the positions, including executive roles, have yet been identified, Schnure said.
Sen. Kevin Mullin, R-Rutland, said CVPS executives will receive golden parachutes worth millions. The total compensation for company higher ups is projected to be $18 million, plus additional perquisites.
“I think it’s shameful we’re taking comfort in reducing rates to ratepayers by eliminating jobs,” Mullin said. “It’s unfortunate, but I can’t help but think a significant portion of those jobs will be in my region. Rutland will get part hard hit by deal, but there’s no stopping it.
I would hope the PSB would calculate all these factors into the decision-making process.”
As part of the deal, Gaz Metro has offered to create a new downtown headquarters in Rutland and to make the city a center of solar innovation.