Earlier this month, Vermont’s Department of Public Service released hundreds of documents in response to a public records request from VPR. All of the documents relate to the department’s preparation of a report, ordered by the Legislature, analyzing the department’s ratepayer advocacy work.
The documents showed that Commissioner Chris Recchia pushed back the release date for the report, then oversaw the editing process that ultimately stripped criticisms and key legislative recommendations from the report.
To view the documents, scroll to the bottom of this page.
When the Senate Finance Committee called him in to explain the changes, Recchia denied softening the public-facing versions of the report, and said the final self-assessment was an accurate reflection of the department’s work and his staff’s thoughts on how effective the system is.
He criticized VPR’s reporting on the documents, saying the story was biased and took documents out of context.
“I think that it came into the story with a particular bias and there was lots of other evidence that could be used to paint a completely different picture, which is the one I tried to paint today,” Recchia told the Senate Finance Committee.
The requests were for material related to a letter from Bristol attorney Jim Dumont, all drafts of the Act 56 report and all input received by the department for the report.
In response to the requests, the Department of Public Service released more than 200 PDF files. The department also released approximately 30 hours of audio interview between department staff and experts in Vermont utility regulation. VPR is publishing some of those audio files in full as they are reviewed by staff.
The department provided audio of the following interviews:
Annette Smith, Bill Driscoll, Vicki Brown, Steve Terry, David Littell, James Volz, George Sterzinger, Scott Rubin, David Mullett, Sandra Levine, George Young, Richard Saudek, Richard Berkley, Steve Ward, Charlotte Ancel, Rich Sedano, Sonny Popowski, VELCO, Peter Zamore, Vermont Gas Systems, Janee Briesemeister, and Michael Dworkin.
How To Use The Documents
Use the “Search” box to search among document titles or the text within the documents. There are 221 documents in total, and all of the file names are (with minor formatting changes) the same ones provided by the Department of Public Service.
All redactions were done by VPR in order to protect the privacy of private citizens.
Some of the file names heavily use acronyms. Here is what some of those mean:
- Act 56 was the legislation that called on the Department of Public Service to analyze how well it represents the public interest.
- PA is shorthand for public advocacy.
- EM is Department of Public Service Regional Policy Director Ed McNamara.
- CR is Department of Public Service Commissioner Chris Recchia.
- GC is Geoff Commons, the director of the department’s Public Advocacy Division, which is what the Act 56 report focused on.
- WJ is Wayne Jortner, a department employee who was tasked with researching and writing early drafts of the Act 56 report.