The View from Faraway Farm


Don't you just hate it when you get something wrong? I do, and your reaction to getting something wrong tells a lot about you. If you choose to ignore the issue and hope everyone forgets about it, well, I suppose that is who you choose to be. Good luck with that. Most of what I write about here is pure opinion, sometimes correct, sometimes a little biased. However, I really strive to have an open mind and take a look at both sides of an issue. I did not do that effectively a few weeks ago when I wrote about Green Mountain Power.

Like any proactive organization, GMP immediately called me. Their representative was not angry about what I had written, she simply wanted to sit down and fill me in on what was going on with GMP in the here and now. Fair enough. It took a few weeks to get schedules coordinated, but I received a call informing me that a Mary Powell from GMP would be happy to talk with me at their Brattleboro office. I agreed. First, I did a simple Google search on Mary Powell of Green Mountain Power. She is the CEO. According to a news article published in the spring of 2015, she is also a very courageous woman who opted for a double mastectomy in an effort to avoid breast cancer, something that she would, in all probability, contract, according to genetic testing. She had lost her Mom to breast cancer. Regardless of what I had thought about Green Mountain Power, I had to respect someone who would publicly put it out there that she was taking the ultimate precaution. I mention this because it is a story that should be shared to serve as an example to everyone that there are ways to avoid a deadly disease. However, this is not about Mary Powell, it is about a company headed up by person that took the time to listen. Why did I have such a low opinion of GMP?

It was historical information that I had stored away in the back of my mind. I can remember twenty and thirty years ago that the news was constantly buzzing about the embattled utility. Without dredging up all the sordid past, it became clear to me that Green Mountain Power is a much different company today. That's the critical point, what GMP is now. Just as an aside, although I was used to the old CVPS, it was also a question of me not adapting to a change. CV was not perfect, either. In fact, my neighbor referred to them as Constantly Variable Power Source; CVPS. In talking with the former Chief Engineer at WCFR in Springfield, I was reminded of all the problems we had back in the 1980's and 90's with power surges. It took a long time to straighten out. So far any interaction I've had with GMP has been positive. On a recent holiday weekend, I noticed a branch touching a power line and sparking on a neighbors property. After calling the utility, a GMP crew was there in ten minutes. That's good response time!

So here's the thing. Vermont's largest utility is now owned by a Canadian Company with a lot of capital. They have obviously made some smart choices by promoting from within and maintaining their highly stable workforce. Simply put, they are a good employer. As I had stated in my previous column, I did not understand how a smaller utility like GMP could suddenly acquire Central Vermont Public Service Corporation. Now I understand, and it makes a lot more sense. While this critical change is relatively recent, I don't see much to complain about in the here and now. Well, except for one thing. I don't like the new remote read meters. While they probably do read more accurately than the old mechanical units, my electric bill did go up a little. That makes me grumble, but I've accepted it. Oh yeah, there's the mailer I got about comparing my energy bill to my neighbors. Come to find out it did not come from GMP.

That comparison with my neighbors came from Efficiency Vermont, not from GMP as I had erroneously stated. Completely different animal. They called too, and kindly offered to help me find even more ways to save electricity. In the end, I have to say that I met some caring, concerned people who only wanted to clear things up and help me reach my goal of a smaller electric bill. Enough time has passed since the steps I took to save energy were implemented. It worked. In their most recent mailing, Efficiency Vermont rated me "Good" in electric consumption compared to my neighbors. This is what I love about our small state of Vermont. We are all neighbors, we are all in this together, and by reacting in a caring, helpful manner, both Green Mountain Power and Efficiency Vermont have proven that they are doing their jobs well. Mea culpa.

Arlo Mudgett's Morning Almanac has been heard over multiple radio stations in Vermont for nearly 30 years, and can be tuned in at 92.7 WKVT Monday through Saturday mornings at 8:35 a.m.


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