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Former State Official: 'I Can Confirm' Most Allegations In Anonymous GMP Letter

The exterior of the Green Monutain Power building
Emily Alfin Johnson
VPR File
A former state official says he will tell regulators his view of the state's handling of a GMP rate case.

A former state official who allegedly raised questions at the Department of Public Service over its handling of a Green Mountain Power rate case says he will tell utility regulators what he knows.

Brian Winn was, until recently, director of finance and economics at the department, which represents ratepayers’ interests in utility cases. As a state witness, he testified frequently in GMP’s request for a 5.45 percent rate increase. But an anonymous letter sent to the Public Utility Commission and local media alleges Winn left his post after clashing with Commissioner June Tierney over the state’s advocacy in the case.

“In my opinion the letter accurately reflects the Public Service Department’s overall approach to the Green Mountain Power rate case prior to my departure,” Winn wrote in an email to VPR Friday. “While I can confirm most of the 15 different allegations, I cannot confirm them all.  Additionally, there are other facts, not mentioned in the letter,  that may be pertinent. I am currently out of state visiting family. Over the next few days I will work on a more detailed response which I will file as a public comment directly to the Public Utility Commission."

Earlier this week state utility regulators took the unusual step of making public the anonymous letter that alleges close ties between the agency that advocates for ratepayers and Green Mountain Power, the state’s largest electric utility.

The letter concerns GMP’s request to hike rates by 5.45 percent, and it alleges a cozy relationship between the department and the utility.

More from VPR — Utility Regulators Make Public Anonymous Allegations In GMP Rate Case [Nov. 20]

The letter is unsigned butfull of alleged insider details on the pending rate case. It focuses on the Department of Public Service, the state agency charged with representing ratepayers. And it appears it may have come from someone on the department staff, because it says “we” were told not to raise certain claims with GMP. It called the department’s position in the case a “sham.”

The letter said Winn was fired, but his statement does not address the circumstances of his leaving state service.

James Porter, the department's director of public advocacy, said Friday the state would have no comment on Winn's letter, other than earlier comments it filed with the Public Utility Commission:

"The department has reviewed the anonymous letter, which materially mischaracterizes the department's investigation of GMP's rate filing and reflects a poor understanding of not just the factual and analytical underpinnings of the pending GMP rate case, but also of rate case litigation process generally," the filing said. "No good cause exists for the Commission to conclude that its proceedings lack integrity or have otherwise failed to facilitate a fair and transparent review of the contested evidence."

In an earlier interview, Commissioner Tierney said she does not believe the letter came from inside her department. And she characterized the anonymous document as an attempt to undermine the process.

Update 12:49 p.m. This post was updated to reflect the state's response to Winn's statement.

John worked for VPR in 2001-2021 as reporter and News Director. Previously, John was a staff writer for the Sunday Times Argus and the Sunday Rutland Herald, responsible for breaking stories and in-depth features on local issues. He has also served as Communications Director for the Vermont Health Care Authority and Bureau Chief for UPI in Montpelier.
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