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Transition At GMP: CEO To Depart, A Recent Merger And The Future Of Energy

The exterior of the Green Mountain Power building in Colchester
Henry Epp
VPR File
Earlier this week, Green Mountain Power CEO and President Mary Powell announced her plan to depart at the end of the year. This news comes soon after pipeline company Enbridge increased its indirect ownership stake over GMP.

Green Mountain Power CEO Mary Powell will step down from her position later this year, ending a 12-year tenure at the top of the state’s largest utility. This change comes at a time of transition for the utility.

GMP is owned by several layers of Canadian corporations, and a merger last week increased the indirect ownership stake of the pipeline company Enbridge over Green Mountain Power and Vermont Gas.

VPR's John Dillon, who reports on the state's uilities, spoke to All Things Considered host Henry Epp about Powell's decision and GMP.

Listen to the conversation above.

Powell's legacy and next steps

It's really the end of an era for Green Mountain Power and for state energy policy in general.

During her tenure, Powell presided over a number of significant changes: a shift in corporate culture at the company, a merger between GMP and Central Vermont Public Service Corporation, and GMP's move to a low-carbon portfolio mix. 

Powell told VPR she is not leaving GMP for another job and mentioned her desire to continue working in the energy field, but there have also been some rumblings that Powell might have political ambitions.

Timing of the leadership change

Powell's announced departure comes after many accomplishments in steering GMP in a new direction, but also two recent developments of note: the aforementioned ownership change and the approval from state regulators to raise rates.

While these were likely two big cases that she likely wanted done before her decision to depart was publicized, Powell told VPR she's been mulling this move for quite some time and has been working on the succession plan for more than a year.

Mari McClure, currently senior vice president at GMP, will take over as the company's president and CEO on Jan. 1, 2020. 

More from VPR — CEO Mary Powell To Leave Green Mountain Power [Sept. 30]

Energy going forward

A big challenge facing GMP, and all for-profit utilities in the state, is the need to shift to a model of selling electrons from a big centralized power plant, to one of a more renewable base and decentralized generation — where the grid itself is part of the whole energy portfolio and can help store electricity.

This though presents a fundamental paradox for the utilities, which are companies based on sales.

One way GMP is addressing that is by tackling carbon emissions from heating and transportation in Vermont. Powell has been promoting the sale of electric heat pumps and electric vehicles, which will increase kilowatt hour sales for GMP.

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.
Henry worked for Vermont Public as a reporter from 2017 to 2023.
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