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1970’s in Review

  • In April 1970, electric co-ops came under the jurisdiction of the Vermont Public Service Board, which certified service territory for all utilities and set rates.
  • On June 8, 1970, the Co-op purchased 2,431 shares of stock in the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant.
  • The next year, a new operations building was proposed. Bids were reviewed and plans were made to complete the new facility in mid-1971.
  • In 1972, new environmental rules were issued with a potential of up to 200 days delay in connections to new members.
  • Fire destroyed our garage across from the co-op office on April 8, 1972. The loss was estimated to be at least $150,000.
  • The Ford administration made an attempt to scuttle REA and place operations under administrative rule making. With support from Aiken/Humphey and others, this move was overturned.
  • The Co-op filed for an 18.75% increase in September. The co-op asked for an additional 28.9% in December 1973.
  • The Cooperative’s new operations warehouse was completed in 1973.
  • The Purchased Power and Fuel Adjustment Clause was put into effect on January 10, 1974. This gave the Co-op the ability to pass through increases or decreases in power costs each month, and eliminate the need to file a formal rate case with the Public Service Board in order to cover power costs.
  • The Board voted to discontinue the sale of appliances.
  • The Co-op contracted with Central Area Data Processing Corporation of St. Louis, Missouri, for computer services, replacing United Data Processing of Pennsylvania.
  • Financial constraints during the early 70’s led to some very drastic cost-cutting measures. Some of those efforts included no increase in wages for non-union employees, a delay in implementation of the union contract wage, and temporary elimination of the right-of-way clearing budget. Six employees were laid off, and the positions of six employees who left the Co-op in 1974 were not filled. The Co-op received a 26.3% rate increase in 1975.
  • Power costs rose nearly 50% between 1970 and 1976. Between 1975 and 1976 alone, there was a 21% increase in pTheodore Barry Associates, a management consulting firm from New York, was hired by the Vermont Public Service Board to study all utilities in Vermont. The purpose of the study was to determine how effectively the Vermont utilities are managed in this state. This is the first time in the United States that all electric utilities in one state will be subject to this study.
  • On-going controversy between Co-op management and a few members of the Board of Trustees, prompted eight (8) members to seek election to three seats on the Board during the 1976 Annual Meeting.
  • At a special meeting on February 15, 1977, the Board voted to dismiss the general manager, and appointed long-time employee Dean Shattuck as interim manager until a permanent replacement could be hired.
  • Also in 1977, an offer was made by Green Mountain Power Corporation to purchase, contract with or lease the Cooperative. The Board unanimously voted not to open negotiations with Green Mountain Power.
  • In1978, the Board hired John Rohr from Ohio as the Co-op’s new general manager. Still facing financial difficulties, the new manager proposed filing for further rate relief with the Vermont Public Service Board. It was revealed by the President in his report to the membership that the deficit by year’s end was expected to be approximately $400,000. The Public Service Board granted another 20% increase in rates in April, 1979. At the same time, it ordered a professional review of staffing and management practices at the Co-op.
  • The 40th Anniversary Annual Meeting was held at the VFW in Montpelier. George D. Aiken, former Vermont Governor and U.S. Senator, was special guest speaker.
  • The Co-op Board agreed with REA to a deferral of principal payments to REA to enable the Co-op to pay off its short-term debt.
  • Vermont Electric Cooperative (VEC) and Washington Electric Cooperative representatives met to discuss mutual aid, joint purchasing, and power supply. A committee of the two co-ops was formed to study these and other issues.
  • The Board continued to investigate the feasibility of contracting to purchase power from the controversial Seabrook nuclear power plant. Many opinions, both pro and con, appeared in the Co-op’s membership newsletter. A petition by members was filed with the Public Service Board in opposition to the Co-op contracting for Seabrook Power.
  • In 1979, the Board hired a local realtor to pursue the sale of the Co-op’s administrative office building. The intent was to use funds from the sale of the building to construct an addition to the Co-op’s warehouse building for office space.