The leader of Vermont's largest electric utility will leave her post at the end of this year.
After 12 years on the job, Mary Powell announced Monday that she'll step down from her position as president and CEO of Green Mountain Power. She'll hand the reins to Mari McClure, who is currently a senior vice president at the company.
Powell said she is pondering new opportunities and wants to fight climate change and serve the public good. She might even run for political office, though Powell said she had no specific plan to announce.
"I'm not ruling out that public office could be something that I might come to feel is a good place for my energy and my commitment to serving society," said Powell, who described herself as a lifelong Democrat.
Powell, 58, was one of only a handful of women nationally to lead an investor-owned utility when she took the CEO job at Green Mountain Power. As she ran the company, she also served on numerous boards and moved into the spotlight as one of Vermont's most prominent woman business leaders.
During Powell's tenure, Green Mountain Power put a greater emphasis on renewable power sources. Some environmentalists questioned the authenticity of the commitment given that Canadian gas and oil company Enbridge has an indirect ownership stake of GMP.
Powell doesn't see a contradiction. “Green Mountain Power, as we repeat over and over again, really operates independently of our upstream investors,” she said.
She discussed succession planning with GMP's board for more than a year leading up to Monday's announcement. Powell declined to say if McClure beat out other finalists for the job.
An attorney, McClure has worked at Green Mountain Power for 10 years and has a deep understanding of all aspects of the business, Powell said.
"She's thoughtful, she's got incredible financial acumen and is really focused on all the work we've done to lower costs for customers,” Powell said.
Courtesy of Green Mountain Power
In the short term, Powell said she plans to help husband Mark Brooks run their company, Spot the Dog. It sells reflective collars and vests for pups.
Powell, who lives in South Hero, said she has no plans to leave Vermont.
In a press release announcing the changes, Elizabeth Bankowski, a longtime member of the Green Mountain Power board of directors and head of the Windham Foundation, praised both Powell and McClure.
“The board is very appreciative of Mary Powell’s many contributions, and we could not be more thrilled with the selection of Mari McClure as the next generation leader of Green Mountain Power,” Bankowski said in the statement. “Mari’s commitment to Vermont and to the company, and her amazing track record of leadership, has us excited about this next chapter.”
McClure, too, was quoted, saying that she's eager to lead the company to meet its goals, "including being 100 percent renewable by 2030." She'll become president and CEO on January 1.
"Mary is a great mentor who empowers everyone at GMP to work hard to fulfill our mission," McClure said in the statement. "It’s inspiring to carry on this important work and push GMP to be even stronger for all of the customers and communities we serve."