Vt. lawmakers, AARP want public utility influence

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 6, 2014 at 4:33 pm •  Published: January 6, 2014
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — One of the first acts of the 2014 Legislature will be to give final passage to a bill that would give consumers and small businesses more influence in utility regulation cases heard by the Public Service Board, legislative leaders said Monday on the eve of the opening of the 2014 session.

During last year's legislative session, AARP Vermont worked with Vermont's Department of Public Service and legislative leaders to ensure that the public's voice is heard in front of the board that regulates utility issues, such as rates and the construction for renewable energy projects such as wind farms.

"I think it's a great opportunity to do a better job for people who haven't been heard from much and who don't know a great deal about how to represent themselves," said Sen. Robert Hartwell, D-Bennington. "I think they need some help from the state and I think this bill will help us get in that direction."

The bill passed the Senate during last year's session and legislative leaders expect the House to follow suit. The lawmakers, including House Speaker Shap Smith, D-Morristown, and Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell, D-Windsor, both attended a Monday news conference where they urged quick final passage of the bill.

Smith said there was no chance the bill would fail to pass the House.