Vt. legislative leaders are pushing for a bill which would overhaul public utility oversight.
In March of 2012, AARP Vermont officials dropped off 13,000 signatures at the Public Service Board as part of a dispute with Green Mountain Power.
At a Monday press conference, legislators promised it will be easier to guarantee regular Vermonters -- like low-earners and small business owners -- a voice in the future.
"They should have just as much voice in these rate cases as anyone else," said Sen. President John Campbell.
When Central Vermont Public Service and GMP merged, some felt the company owed former rate-payers $21-million. Instead GMP re-invested the money, promising savings. The matter led to a hearing, but many members of the public complained they don't have the means to compete with corporations and their well-funded legal staffs.
"I think it's important for us to ensure the confidence of our citizenry -- that everybody is being represented and this bill does that," said House Speaker Shap Smith.
The measure would require the Department of Public service to give added consideration to those unable to devote significant financial resources to a case. House and Senate leadership say they feel advocates currently do a great job but want to ensure that continues.
Green Mountain Power officials say they won't be affected by the measure because it simply makes current practice permanent.
Reporter Kyle Midura: The legislators at the press conference were insistent upon the fact that this is no reaction to the merger of GMP and CVPS. Does it feel that way to you?
Robert Dostis/GMP: The legislature would be the best source to answer that question.
Lawmakers say they began considering this legislation before the merger and note the measure may also ultimately have applications in the siting of wind turbines. The 2013 session re-convenes Tuesday.