Just one day before storms ravaged Connecticut – leaving over 700,000 people without power across the state – Gregory Butler, the executive vice president and general counsel of Eversource sold thousands of shares of company stock.
According to documents filed with the security and exchange commission documents, Butler sold 5,625 shares trading at around $88 per share. The trade was worth about $500,000. He still owns about 76,000 units of Eversource as a part of his executive compensation package.
While Butler did not offer a comment -- an Eversource spokesperson told NBC Connecticut the move is completely legal.
“A portion of our executive compensation is in the form of Eversource shares and periodically they are sold by our executives. There is a minimum level of shares required and all of our executives hold well above the minimum level. The ability for executives to buy and sell shares is governed by a previously established process – and Mr. Butler followed that process and received approval to sell his shares on that specific date. ”
The utility is facing ratepayer rage following its response to Tropical Storm Isaias.
“Even with an entire state out for a week, a state that they’re supposed to be serving electricity to, the stock has barely moved and he was able to cash out on that, and that’s the problem,” Lon Seidman said.
Seidman is an Eversource customer from Essex.
“The optics are bad. The timing is bad. I mean, clearly they knew a storm was coming when they made the stock movement. And I think that’s something that the SEC needs to investigate and share the findings of that investigation with the public,” Seidman said.
The Securities and Exchange Commission declined comment for this report. Gov. Ned Lamont was critical.
“I got no problem with paying good money to people who do extraordinary work. Outperform in a competitive environment. Those type of CEOs more likely than not deserve what they get. That’s not the case with a utility. Where you’re a natural monopoly and you don’t have any competition,” Lamont says.
Lamont says he’s looking at changing how the regulators regulate utilities.
“If you can’t deliver electricity in a week where do you go? You’ve got no choice. That’s the difference,” Lamont said.
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal said he also wants to see a shakeup in the management at Eversource.
“As well as the potential breakup of the company or some fundamental change,” Blumenthal said.