May 9, 2010 -- Bob Young of Central Vermont Public Service joins Adam Sullivan and Darren Perron to discuss CVPS' acquisition of Vermont Marble Division, and the future of power in Vermont.
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>> Good morning everyone I'm Darren Perron.
>> I'm Adam Sullivan
A big announcement from central Vermont public lick service.
Buying a smaller division.
To find out what that means for customers we are joined with our news make they are week, CVPS president Bob young.
>> We will have your neighbors in the news.
A hero in St. Jay who is keeping seniors strong and Oscar winner has praise for Vermont.
A day in the life of the speaker of the house.
Teddy bears on the way to kids in berry and eating species?
we will explain.
>> But first our news make they are week.
Bob young is the president and CEO of central Vermont public service.
It is Vermont's largest utility.
It is a position that Bob has held since December in 1995.
And he joins us now in our studio.
Bob thank you very much for coming N
>> My pleasure.
>> Appreciate it.
This has been a very big week for CVPS.
>> It has.
It was our annual meeting and as you rightfully point out, it was our opportunity to announce our purchase of the power division.
A project we have been working on actually for a number of years.
At least thinking about it and talking to them about it.
And we are excited.
We think it makes a lot of good sense for them and for us as a utility and what it can do for our new customers.
>> And what exactly does the sale include?
>> Well, I think let me start it sort at the highest level.
I think that what it does is provide some additional consolidation of the electric companies here in Vermont.
As you know we have two sort of major utilities in green mountain and a lot of smaller utilities.
And I think over time, it has been the policy of the state to try to seek consolidation where it makes sense.
And certainly I think this consolidation truly does make sense.
The service territory that the power division to serve for the last number of decades, sits right square in the middle of our service ser is ‑‑ territory right outside of rutland in proctor.
So we will now be taking on customers that we will be able to service readily through our people in Rutland and Poltney.
We'll have 30 line workers within an hour's drive of proctor, so in events of out ans and storms, we can service them rapidly and quickly and with lots of resources.
We will be able to provide them with some services that they currently cannot have through the Vermont marble division.
Things like our electric pay, payment program, different rate structures, access in a few years to our smart grid program.
And I think the fact that our whole customer base will be paying for the upgrades that we will now make onto their system so that the full burden of those costs aren't borne by a small number of customers.
>> Four hydro facilities included?
>> There are four hydro facilities really running from center Rutland up into Middlebury.
Three of which are operating at this point.
One is not.
But I think another benefit to them and actually to all our customers is the fact that over the next several years we will be putting about 12 million dollars of capital into those facilities to upgrade them, to put in modern technology so that we can get the most benefit out of those facilities for not only the customers and the proctor customers but for all of our customers.
In this day and age, you can imagine, having having renewable hydroelectric energy in your system is a very good thing to have.
And something that Vermonters seem to want and so it ‑‑ in that sense it is a great attribute of this purchase
>> We are talking about 900 customers in the proctor area?
I believe it its 840 or so.
>> And will they likely see an impact of this impending sale?
>> Yes, they will aside from the fact that I think that they will see more and broader service capability.
They are going to see their rates go up.
But, their rates are going to go up whether we own them or anybody else owned them because quite frankly, for quite a long period of time now, I think OMU has subsidized the costs of the work that needed to be done on the system.
So I think for virtually 16 or 20 years or something, they have not had a rise in their rates.
But over time of course, systems age, equipment gets to the end of its useful life, and you can get to the point where you begin to have reliability issues.
They haven't to date but that would come just by virtue of useful lives of equipment.
So, we will rebuild a lot of that to maintain the reliability that they currently have.
That will cost money so there will be rate pressures.
But again, I want to point out those rate pressures would come whether we were doing this or ‑‑ you know or anybody else.
That that is going to happen.
Further point I think that should be made its that ‑‑ is that even though their rates are going up, has among.
The lowest rates of any utility in the northeast these days.
And so on a relative basis, the proctor consumers will be in pretty good shape.
>> You said that this is part of a broader push to consolidate utilities.
What is the benefit of consolidation?
>> It really gets to the issue of economies of scale.
And there are a lot of small utilities in this state, municipal utilities, serving only a few hundred or a few thousand customers and it is very hard for entities that are that small to have the ‑‑ provide the diversity of service or the ‑‑ you know, the breadth of capability that larger companies have.
So that when you can to ‑‑ some of these smaller entities and wrap them into larger entities you can provide a greater depth and breadth of service.
And so I think from that standpoint, the state has encouraged that.
You know the depth and breadth and that kind of thing, scope and scale, also help you to control costs better.
So, for lots of reasons, the state is very much for this, but I will say this because it has always been our position is that we are the biggest utility in the state and while we think that scope and scale makes a difference, we are not aggressive about these kinds of things.
If a smaller utility wants to come and talk to us about joining the family, that's fine.
But we are not aggressive about it.
This merge he were is one that came about because there were two willing parties that saw benefits and that is the way we would like to view anything we do, either with what we've done in the past or what we might do in the future.
>> The sail is ‑‑ sale is expected to be finalized by the end of this year?
>> We hope so we will now move ahead to put a petition together to the public service board and we will get, from what I understand, some pretty good support from the department of public service, who I think at least if you listen to commissioner O'Brien, think this is the right thing to do.
So I'm hopeful that the ‑‑ that that process will go fairly smooth a and it can get done by year end.
>> Let's switch gears this.
past winter, there was a very trying, cold, rainy, ice‑filled winter for CVPS.
>> That's correct.
As I said in my talk at the annual meeting, we have had three storms in the last two or three years, any one of which could have been the storm of the century for us, what we referred to as the 1‑2 punch this last February.
It was a ‑‑ I think in terms of customer impact, it was the biggest storm we have ever had.
I think it impacted almost 90,000 of our customers.
>> And so it was an enormous task for us to in effect take the brunt of the snowfall first and then the wind second and to deal with those two impacts on back to back basis, and try to get all those customers back on‑line and our folks with the help of some outside crews from Ontario and other places, didn't ‑‑ did an extraordinary job.
>> They deserve a lost credit.
Therm the ones that come out during these storms
>> They do indeed.
We Korey about and focus on customer service every day of the year.
But I think one of the things that I give our people tremendous credit for in particular is the improvements they have made in how they handle these kinds of major storms and the processes and procedures and learning experience they have gone through over the last number of years in terms of, you know, how do you aggress these, how do you best plan for them, how do you execute them.
Every time we have a big event like this, we have a followup where we do lessons learned.
We incorporate those into our planning or operating processes and I think the result of all that of hard work by lots of people is that you can continually see improvement in terms of our response and our customer service in those kinds of situations.
>> What is an example of a lesson learned from such a big storm?
>> Well, I think we learned ‑‑ we have learned an awful lot about how you inform customers about the status of their service in any ‑‑ in any event like a major storm.
And that requires enormous communication, not directly with the ‑‑ as much as directly with the customer, as between our field people and our customer service people so that they can move information back and forth rapidly so they know what information to give to the customers.
So, it ‑‑ it is that kind of area that we have improved in enormously.
We have ‑‑ we have learned an awful lot about trying to gauge a storm up front.
And its impact.
And effectively contracting without ‑‑ with outside crews to bring them in early, sort of an insurance policy so that if we really do have a major storm we have enormous amounts of resources there from the word "go," to go out and tackle that storm.
Instead of waiting for it to happen.
We refer to it as sort of a cheap insurance policy.
sometimes you don't need them and you paid for them.
Because when you really do need them, it is a wonderful thing to have them early because it makes all the differences how fast you can mobilize and get out and start getting customers back on‑line.
>> If that experience that now you bring to the residents in proctor ‑‑
>> That's exactly right.
As I say, we which ‑‑ will have a large number of linemen and other resources, very close to the town of proctor and we will be able to bring not only a broad set of services, but this kind of operational expertise, you know to those new customer as well.
Finally, Bob we still have a little bit of time.
CVPS was recognized nationally recently.
>> We were.
We were actually thrilled.
It was a great surprise to us when Forbes came out with a list of what they felt were about the 100 most trustworthy companies in the United States.
You know, I guess they got a little concerned that all the news about business was bad and that's all people heard so they went out to try to find some people they thought kind of did it right.
And we were extraordinarily honored as a company to have them put us on that list.
And it had everything to do with how we communicate our governance, the transparency of our communications, the conservative nature that we use in terms of talking about our financial and accounting standards and these kind of things, so it ‑‑ it was ‑‑ it was a ‑‑ a great award to our company and earned by all 530 people who work at CV because you couldn't define this ‑‑ us that way.
if it was just one person acting that way.
It is the fact that we have 530 people that act that way.
>> Congratulations to be that world and thanks again for joining us on this show.
>> It has been my pleasure.
Thanks very much.
>> Here is Darren with neighbors in the news.
>> Thank you, Adam.
Coming up residents in Richmond are battling invasive species by eating them.
That and more on the way.
>>> 7 people in the St. Johns bury area were recently recognized as community heroes.
ALexy Reuben Stein tells us about one of them and it is easy to see why she was chosen.
>> It is 9 a.m. and residents of St. Johns bury's good living senior center are hard at work.
This weekly class called living strong improves mobility and builds strength.
It caps a week packed with activities.
Chorus, bowling, and a current events discussion group to name a few and available not only to residents but all seniors living in the region.
>> I never did that one.
>> Wow, that's great.
>> Susan, good living activity director is credited with revitalizing the program since she arrived 5 years ago.
>> There isn't enough attention paid to people who are aging.
There is still a very vital spirit in there and it ‑‑ people need to stay engaged as they age and I'm happy to create activities or do whatever I can to help people age in a healthy and happy way.
>> Shaw came to Vermont back in 1995 and ended up working as part of a team of care givers for Ann Moreau Lindbergh, the elderly widow of famous aviator Charles Lindbergh and an accomplished flier and author in her own right.
Later worked as a private elder caregiver
>> I was looking for a police to bring my clients during the day for ‑‑ to engage in activities, socializations, and couldn't find anything.
I thought I would see about starting a senior center and then I found out that there was one here in St. Johns bury.
>> Joined the board at the center and eventually became its activity director.
She has moved beyond bingo and other traditional offerings like recruiting two young AmeriCorps volunteers to lead a weekly class that they call laughing yoga.
>> They can laugh but it is more like an exercise.
and we ‑‑ and then laugh.
And they laugh and these girls have a way that you have to laugh.
They are so good at this.
>> I think it is just amazing, my out of state friends that I talk to about what we do here, are very envious.
They say oh I wish we had things like that around here.
But she ‑‑ she really has done a tremendous job with all activities.
>> I love putting on parties for people or situations and so that's what I feel happens here every ‑‑ you know every month, every day, every week.
Is that there is some kind of a level of party going on.
>> What makes Shaw's hero award even more meaningful, she was diagnosed with cancer in her abdomen last year.
and been undergoing treatment the past several months.
During that time, she stayed busy doing the work that she loves.
>> Being here at the senior center is always a joy.
So keeping that in my life as much as possible during that time that I was getting the treatments, I think was ‑‑ was absolutely therapeutic.
>> Therapeutic for their newest community hero and for the community of seniors she serves.
>> I think laster is the best medicine.
No matter what age we are.
But especially you know as we age.
>> ALexy Reuben Stein, channel 3 news.
>> I love that story.
What a great woman.
For a list of all of the recipients of this year's St. Johns bury community hero awards, visit our website:
An academy award winner says Vermont is a role model for other states.
Dustin black won the Oscar but says Vermont is a winner when it comes to gay rights.
>> I look at Vermont with a lot of jealousy.
>> He hopes one day all states can be like Vermont, in offering gay and less been couples full marriage rights and other protections.
>> So I think Vermont's in a really unique position to now advocate for federal equality.
>> The Hollywood screenwriter is carrying on the messages of equality and visibility that one of his heroes, Harvey, helps bring to the national stage.
>> The slain California civil rights activist that states ‑‑ state's first openly gay leader was the subject of black screenplay milk.
>> Dustin Lance black for milk.
>>> The script won the writer an academy award last year.
>> Maybe I could fall in love and get married.
>> When he told the world how as a young gay man he struggled to find role models and feel like he belonged.
Had he a message for other kids who may be feeling the same way.
>> You are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value.
What is now regarded as one of the most powerful Oscar acceptance speeches in recent years, has won the Texas native praise from groups.
>> So we have black coming out, speaking about all these great issues and introducing youth of today about Harvey milk is such an empowering exciting thing.
>> I was just focusing on the qualifications.
>> The next head of the student government association at the University of Vermont is UVM's first openly gay SGA president of color.
As Harvey milk did, he pledges to represent both main stream student interests and undergrads who feel they hadn't had a place at the table.
>> But together we can do a lot and I think that's what slowly is happening on campus.
More students are coming together from different communities that traditionally haven't spoken out as much.
>> Dustin Lance black says milk would be proud.
He hopes other states learn from Vermont in providing open dialogue and safe well coming environments for all people, especially children and teens.
>> And boy we need all of our young people to excel.
We cannot leave 10% of them behind.
>> Wrapping up the legislative session is a whirl wend of activity.
Bills change by the minute.
Behind the scenes negotiating is intense.
Playing the key role is the speaker of the house.
Photographer Scott waterman followed Shap Smith for a day.
>> The house please come to order.
>> My name is Shap Smith.
I'm the speaker of the house.
>> Members come and take your seats.
>>> The job of the speak he were at this point in time in the session is really to some degree problem solver.
And trying to make sure that things move along.
>> Are you guys going to move the consolidation bill?
>> I'm cognizant of the fact that speaker of the how is the speaker of the house.
I'm the speaker of the democratic party.
We are trying to figure out solutions that most people can agree to.
>> Who is coming to this meeting?
you will not get everybody on board to everything that you do.
>> Are we meeting the governor at 9:00?
>> So we actually have ‑‑ want to give ‑‑ a last times what we are trying to figure out is where are the places that we can come to some common ground.
We are just going over what we expect to hear from the governor.
And reaction to a proposal that we put together yesterday.
When we go into a meeting, both of us have, you know, an understanding of what our particular concerns are.
We are trying to figure out okay, where can we reach some common ground.
>> It is unclear ‑‑
>> Certainly I do feel the pressure and I think we all do.
you know that a lot of people are paying attention to what you are doing.
I think that we say look we gave on 18.
One of the former speakers told me is you really need to step back on occasion and sort of drink it all in.
While you are at the podium, realize that you are part of a process that has been ongoing for hundreds of years.
That means a lot to me.
Joint resolution relating to weekend adjournment.
When I'm at the podium I am looking out at the floor all the time.
I want to have a sense of who is talking to who, wasn't to have a sense of who is getting ready to stand up.
The member from Milton please rise.
Because that will have some impact on where the debate may be going.
I think what doesn't come across is the hours that ‑‑ of work that people actually put into the bills before they get to the floor.
Most important thing to count is how many days we have left.
I'm really honored that I get to be part of that whole process.
And I think ‑‑ it is hard to express how wonderful a job this is.
It really is.
We have an understanding of what is going to be particularly problematic.
May 8, nay 8 ‑‑ may 8 Saturday.
It is hard to define what is a successful day.
If we have moved forward and moved closer on an issue and we think we are closer to agreement on something I define that as success.
I think this has actually been a pretty good example of what a typical day looks like for the speaker of the house.
Each day go home, I'm pretty tired.
>> I bet.
Some kids in berry city got new fuzzy friends thanks to volunteers from several organizations.
Anson Tebbits takes to us a teddy bear picnic.
>> There is just something about a teddy bear.
For a kid in preschool the whole world seems okay when a teddy bear is nearby.
It was a lot of snuggling at this teddy bear picnic in berry city.
3, 4, 5 year olds at the central Vermont community action counsel learning center were able to pick out their own bears.
>> Wiggle toes into slippers?
can you see what he's got?
>> After settling in, they were treated to a story by grandma Lou, a volunteer with the foster grandparent program.
>> It is a good program.
We are there, we help out the youngsters.
In their reading.
>> Giving that kind of joy back to some children who need it is very important.
It is something that we want to do as an organization and allows some of our senior volunteers to reconnect with the children.
>> The retired senior volunteer program, made the clothes for the bears.
600 sweaters in all.
Some of the bears ended up in the arms here in berry sit each p others in the hands of kids who experienced trauma through an accident or fire.
>> They are just supposed to bring comfort and you know companionship to children in need.
>> They are cuddly creatures for kids who now have a friend for life.
Thanks to volunteers who that kind gestures can make a world of difference for those just getting started.
>> We are there for the hugs and there to listen.
>> A companion no matter the age.
Anson Tebbits, channel 3 news, berry city.
>> Getting rid of invasive species is no easy task.
But they found a way to do it in Richmond and now restaurants there have them on the menu.
Melinda davenport has more on that.
>> Right now we are talking to the nature conservancy's preserve.
>> Bad Elliott from the Richmond land trust is take us on a tour of the floodplain forest in Richmond.
>> There is a unique mix here.
>> Home to a mix of trees, ferns and wildlife that is slowly days peering from the area.
>> This is Japanese.
The new shoots that are coming this up year.
>> He and his teamwork to root out these invasive species.
>> Find a good patch.
>> Which also weaken the river bank, lessening its ability to protect Richmond from severe flooding.
>> We use dandelion pullers, stick that in and pull it right out.
>> The conservancy and land trust recruit volunteers to help eliminate the weeds.
Produces lots of seed.
At one point came from people's back yards.
>> Gently lift the soil out and try to get this tap root.
Just where the plant stores up energy.
>> If you keep at it, prevent it from seeding, within about 5 years you will see a huge difference.
Then it is just a matter of maintenance after that.
>> And as the nature conservancy removes this invasive plant from the banks of the river, the good news is that it is Edible.
An area restaurants use it as an ingredient for their meals.
Just down the road from the conservancy, Elliott makes a special delivery to a Richmond staple.
>> I don't think I will be able to process this all at once.
>> Rachel at on the rise bakery in Richmond, takes the garlic mustard with open arms since it can be used as a base ill substitute.
>> It is very tastey.
I think people really really enjoy it.
>> What we would normally see as a weed, she sees as a delicacy.
>> Pizza topping, crepe filling, sandwich spread.
>> Today the pesto sauce is created with garlic mustard, walnuts, parmesan and a hint of olive oil, will evolve into a flavorful pizza sauce, turning a nuisance in the woods into gourmet treats in the kitchen.
>> I will have to try that.
>> It looked good.
That will do it for us everybody.
We will see you soon.
I'm Darren Perron.
>> I'm Adam Sullivan.
Have a good day.