CVPS receives Governor’s Award for excellence

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(Host) Governor Jim Douglas was in Killington on Tuesday to honor Central Vermont Public Service Corporation’s efforts to protect the environment. He presented CVPS with two Governor’s Awards for Excellence at the utility’s annual shareholder meeting.

VPR’s Nina Keck has more:

(Keck) Planting crab apple orchards may not sound like much. But the state’s largest utility company has found crab apple trees do wonders under transmission lines. They crowd out taller trees, which reduce the need for cutting and mowing, and they’ve cut herbicide use by 90%. The trees also provide fruit for area wildlife.

Jim Douglas says CVPS’s innovative and cost effective forestry program earned one of two Governor’s Awards for environmental excellence.

(Douglas) “The second award is an environmental award presented to CVPS employees for advancement of educational excellence for the company’s work to not only restore endangered ospreys, but to educate Vermont’s school children about them. The company produced a children’s book ‘Meeri Meets the Ospreys’ which was donated to every third grader and library in the state.”

(Keck) Elizabeth Courtney, executive director of the Vermont Natural Resources Council, says CVPS has done a lot to move the environmental agenda along with their focus on the osprey program, their efforts to expand renewable energy sources in Vermont and their agreement to give up the Peterson Dam in Milton to return a preexisting fishery on Lake Champlain.

(Courtney) “But let’s not forget that CVPS is in the business of supplying electrical energy to the state of Vermont. And I believe that the state of Vermont really should be using less of it. So if I were to wish one thing, it would be to have the governor give an award of excellence to the energy efficiency utility because that utility is helping Vermonters to reduce energy consumption.”

(Keck) CVPS’s hour-long annual meeting was much less controversial than in previous years and company officials were pleased to tout 2002’s accomplishments – both environmental and financial. Things like: improved share holder earnings, the sale of Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant and reduced debt for the Catamount power company.

The only shareholder to voice a public concern at the meeting was Bill Guenther of Newfane. Guenther said despite all the good news, he feels the compensation package for Chief Executive Officer Robert Young is too high.

(Guenther) “Mr. Young’s total compensation this year was $938,184. Last year his total pay was just over $600,000.”

(Keck) Steve Costello, director of Public Affairs at CVPS, said customers need to understand that they only pay about one-third of Robert Young’s compensation. The rest is covered by share holders.

(Costello) “The second thing that is really important to note is you can’t just go out on the street and find an executive who’s going to run a company with 550 employees, a $300 million company, deal with issues like the sale of a nuclear power plant, complex negotiations with power producers and the like.”

(Keck) Other shareholders said if they had to find a new chief executive for the company today, they’d have to spend a lot more than they are now.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Nina Keck in Rutland.

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