Energy & Environment

Gaz Metro seals the deal: GMP and CVPS merge


Late this afternoon, Gaz Métro finalized its purchase of Central Vermont Public Service Corp., Vermont’s largest utility.

The merger between CVPS and Green Mountain Power has been the better part of a year in the making. Gaz Métro purchased GMP in 2007.

According to Dorothy Schnure, a spokeswoman for Green Mountain Power, the two Vermont utilities are not officially one, but they are under the same parent company — Gaz Métro.

However, Schnure said, the two companies will act as one.

“When you call CVPS, someone will answer the phone ‘Green Mountain Power,’” she said.

The two utilities plan to roll out a new logo and splash it on both companies’ trucks later this year.

A second phase of the closing will occur Oct. 1.

The Vermont Public Service Board approved the merger June 15. One group, the Vermont AARP, is still challenging that decision through a motion asking the board to reconsider its order. The group challenged a proposal by the utilities to invest $21 million in “windfall” money in efficiency and weatherization rather than give it to CVPS customers in cash or a rebate.

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Schnure said that motion, filed yesterday, was not enough to delay closing the deal.

In a statement, Gaz Métro praised the deal for creating “synergies” for the utilities’ customers and their shareholders.

“The acquisition of CVPS and its consolidation with Green Mountain Power is built around a high quality management team in Vermont. Bringing these two distributors together will release considerable synergies for the benefit of our customers in Vermont and our shareholders,” said Sophie Brochu, president and CEO of Gaz Métro, in a statement.

The statement also mentions support of the 63-megawatt wind farm Green Mountain Power is building on Lowell Mountain.

The new utility will serve more than 250,000 customers in the state and will control a majority of the retail electric distribution market.

The new utility will serve more than 250,000 customers in the state and will control a majority of the retail electric distribution market.

The company aims to save customers $144 million in the first 10 years and $500 million over 20 years.

According to its statement, with the Vermont utilities, Gaz Métro’s assets are now valued at close to $5 billion. It also owns Vermont Gas Systems, the state’s natural gas utility. It is a major natural gas distribution company in Quebec, with 10,000 kilometers of underground distribution pipelines serving about 300 towns.

Even though the new Green Mountain Power will own a majority of the retail electric market, it will not control Vermont Electric Power Co. (VELCO), the state’s transmission utility. Through an agreement with the Vermont Department of Public Service, a new non-profit corporation will have 38 percent control of the VELCO board.

The department has already appointed members of the initial board that will appoint the three “public good” directors to serve on the VELCO board. They are: Richard Rubin (Washington Electric Cooperative board member and private attorney practicing in Barre); Dick Marron (Stowe Electric trustee, former legislator and owner of the Town & Country Inn in Stowe); Pat Moulton Powden (Vermont deputy secretary of Commerce); Scott Johnstone (executive director of the Vermont Energy Investment Corp.); Chuck Ross (secretary of Agriculture); Hal Cohen (executive director of the Central Vermont Community Action Council); and Annie Noonan (commissioner of the Vermont Department of Labor).

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Alan Panebaker

About Alan

Alan Panebaker is a staff writer for VTDigger.org. He covers health care and energy issues. He graduated from the University of Montana School of Journalism in 2005 and cut his teeth reporting for the Ashland Daily Tidings and Mail Tribune newspapers in Southern Oregon where he covered education and the environment. A dedicated whitewater kayaker and backcountry skier, he later wrote a weekly outdoors column for the Anchorage Press in Anchorage, Alaska, and continues to publish freelance work for Canoe & Kayak magazine. Alan took a three-year hiatus from journalism to attend Vermont Law School. After passing the bar, he decided to return to his journalism roots and start chasing stories again. He lives in Montpelier.

Postscript: Alan died in a kayaking accident on Sept. 19, 2012, shortly after he took a job with American Whitewater. We here at VTDigger mourn his passing.

Email: [email protected]

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