GMP names Costello, White to key posts
By Bruce Edwards
STAFF WRITER | June 27,2012
This new logo connects the traditions and history of both Green Mountain Power and Central Vermont Public Service.
Green Mountain Power Corp. has tapped Steve Costello to head development of the new Energy Innovation Center in Rutland — one of several management changes being made as the result of the merger of GMP and Central Vermont Public Service Corp.
Costello, who was promoted to vice president of generation and energy innovation, was one of four CVPS officials who will have a role in the new company.
GMP President and CEO Mary Powell also promoted Greg White, a 25-year veteran of CVPS, to vice president of operations for GMP. White will lead the company-wide Operations Center on Post Road. He is currently in charge of the engineering department at CVPS.
“Greg’s experience in operations has prepared him exceptionally well for leading GMP operations and providing excellent service to our customers,” Powell said in an email. “Steve’s extensive involvement in Rutland and his leadership with developing CowPower will be important as we develop new programs in our Energy Innovation Center and establish Rutland as the region’s solar city.”
Two CVPS vice presidents, Joseph Kraus and Joan Gamble, have signed one-year consulting contracts with GMP, Costello said.
“There was a solid desire on GMP’s part to have a meaningful mix of the two companies at the executive level and frankly every level going forward,” Costello said Tuesday in an interview.
He said former GMP employee Steve Terry is coming out of retirement to oversee public affairs at GMP, which is based in Colchester.
The management changes come less than two weeks after the Public Service Board approved the merger of the state’s two largest electric utilities.
Gaz Metro of Montreal, which owns GMP and Vermont Gas Systems, agreed to purchase CVPS a year ago for $702 million.
The merger is expected to be finalized within the next few days.
Costello said GMP is committed to making good on its merger promises, including a guaranteed $144 million in savings for customers over the first 10 years after the merger and additional savings in later years.
He said GMP also is committed to making Rutland the state’s “solar city” with the highest per capita solar capacity in the Northeast. Costello’s role at the Energy Innovation Center includes overseeing current and future solar, wind and hydro facilities and projects.
GMP will move aggressively to find a suitable location in the downtown for its new unit.
“I will say we have a preference to take an existing facility that could be dramatically improved,” Costello said. “We want the facility to have both a visual and meaningful impact on the downtown core.”
He said the goal is to have the Energy Innovation Center up and running by the end of next year. The process to select a location will involve the city, he said.
“We’ve done a lot of thinking about both the Energy Innovation Center and the solar city project and … I think that (there) will be things that can become major economic drivers for not just the city but the region as well,” he said.
The existing CVPS Post Road location in Rutland Town will be expanded to accommodate its new role as the GMP Operations Center.
Costello, a 16-year veteran of CVPS, also will remain active in local community affairs, including the Red Cross blood drives at the Paramount Theatre.
White, who will oversee the Operations Center, was praised by Costello as a “quiet but very effective leader” who played an instrumental role in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene in helping to restore power to Rochester. “He’s someone who just gets stuff done,” he said.
Costello repeated GMP’s promise of no layoffs. The only CVPS employees to lose their jobs will be executive officers, including CVPS President Larry Reilly.
Any reduction in the workforce of the merged company will be through attrition, both GMP and CVPS pledged throughout the yearlong approval process.
CVPS has 532 employees and GMP 206 employees.
According to the companies’ testimony before the Public Service Board, five years after the merger the combined company will have 621 employees and in 10 years 599 workers.
Because of the loss of Rutland as the longtime headquarters (on Grove Street) of CVPS, the merger raised concerns among local officials.
Mayor Christopher Louras said the Energy Innovation Center is where the city expects to see jobs created and the selection of Costello as its head was “extremely good news.”
“I think it’s a clear indication that Green Mountain Power is taking its commitment to the city extremely seriously,” Louras said.
GMP also pledged to create two funds: a $100,000 Open for Business Fund for the Downtown Rutland Partnership and a $100,000 Green Growth Fund under the auspices of the Rutland Economic Development Corp.
However, one lawmaker who remains unconvinced the merger will benefit Rutland is Sen. Kevin Mullin, R-Rutland.
Although Mullin was pleased at Powell’s selection of Costello and White, he was a long way from endorsing the merger.
“I hope to hold Steve and the rest of Green Mountain Power accountable and responsible for the promises that have been made and make sure they’re followed through,” he said.
Reminded that the 172-page PSB order approving the merger contained certain safeguards to hold GMP accountable, Mullin said that didn’t help when it came time for CVPS to repay $21 million to ratepayers, who helped bail out the financially strapped utility years earlier. Mullin and others were irked that instead the PSB allowed GMP to invest the $21 in energy efficiency measures and on top of that recoup the investment in future rates.
For former customers of CVPS, Costello said some noticeable changes will happen fairly quickly. New GMP signs will go up on CVPS facilities and vehicles, but the new logo will retain the familiar CVPS orange color.
He said electric rates will eventually be recalculated to reflect the combination of the two companies and their respective customer bases.