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Monday, October 3, 2022

Trustees recommend sale of Barton Electric to Vermont Electric Cooperative

BARTON — On Monday the Barton Village trustees voted unanimously to recommend the sale of Barton Electric Department to Vermont Electric Cooperative.

The vote followed a three-year process of developing a long-term plan for Barton Village and Barton Electric, including contracting with VEC for services following the departure of Barton’s manager and line workers in April 2019.

A request for proposals titled “Sale of Assets of Barton Electric Department” was issued by the Village trustees on September 27, 2021, and delivered to Vermont’s distribution utilities, including all municipal electric utilities.

“VEC’s proposal was selected after careful consideration of purchase price, proven ability to maintain high-quality electric service, comparable rates and financial impacts, impacts to future Barton Village operations, and the transition of current Barton electric department employees,” a statement issued on Tuesday reads.

The trustees said they are confident that moving in this direction will provide a clear and responsible path forward to resolve the difficult and complicated history of Barton Village owning and operating an electric utility, especially the increasing complexity and cost of providing service.

They also said they believe that proceeding with VEC, a locally owned not-for-profit cooperative utility that serves a majority of communities in the Northeast Kingdom, is the right direction to provide a seamless transition.

This transition will also allow Barton Village to exit the utility business with minimum effect on current customers.

The proceeds of the sale will resolve long-term debt issues, support the environmental cleanup of historically underfunded properties, and bring back to the Village the proceeds from 100 years of development work outside of the Village.

Two public informational meetings are scheduled to discuss the details of the proposed sale and to answer questions, and all customers of Barton Electric are invited to the informational meetings.

The first public hearing will be held on Saturday, April 16, at 3:00 p.m.

A second meeting will take place Sunday, May 1, at 3:00 p.m.

Both meetings will be held in the Barton Village Memorial Theater.

The registered voters of Barton Village will vote on the proposed sale by Australian ballot on May 10, 2022.

The polls will be open that day from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. at the Memorial Hall located downstairs of the theater.

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