Vermont's largest electricity provider has become the first utility to win certification as a socially conscious company, joining the ranks of other companies based in the state, such as Ben & Jerry's.
Green Mountain Power officials were joined by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the ice cream magnates who helped pioneer the idea that companies can make money and also do good deeds.
GMP won the certification, called B-Corporation, because of its commitment to renewable and cleaner energy sources and new technology, said Jay Coen Gilbert, a co-founder of B Lab, the nonprofit behind the certification. GMP also pays its employees well and is committed to being open in its decision making, Gilbert noted.
Said GMP President Mary Powell: "I feel like today we've become the Ben & Jerry's of the utility world."
Ben Cohen, of Ben & Jerry's, said earning the B-Corporation certification showed that big industrial companies can have social consciences as well as companies that make ice cream.
"Whether you're in the feel-good, sweet ice cream business or whether you're into heavy duty power business, it makes sense to be a business that serves the needs of the community because, what do you know, as you do that you make more money, you do better business, " Cohen said.
The B-Corporation certification is awarded by the B-Lab, an organization founded in 2006 to certify companies that meet standards of social and environmental performance. There are now 1,165 B Corps in 37 countries, including almost two dozen in Vermont.
GMP joins other Vermont companies such as King Arthur Flower, Cabot Creamery, Rhino Foods and Seventh Generation. But GMP is the first utility to win the designation.
"GMP is joining a community," said Coen Gilbert, who also appeared at Monday's event at GMP headquarters.
"A lot of the leadership of this movement, not only around the country but around the world, has actually been born here; one could say it's sort of a Vermont way of doing business," said Coen Gilbert.