The Board meets on the first and third Monday of each month. Meetings begin at 1:00 p.m. and are held in the department conference room at 65 Lafayette Ave, Littleton. Board meetings are open to the public and time is allotted for public comments at each meeting.
The regularly scheduled Board of Commissioners (BOC) meeting began at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, May 20, 2013 in the Littleton Water and Light Department (LWL) conference room. Present were Commissioner Eddy Moore, Commissioner Perry Goodell, Commissioner Ralph Ross, Financial Services Director Cheryl Wilkins and Superintendent Thomas Considine.
The minutes of May 6, 2013 regularly scheduled Commissioners meeting were reviewed. Commissioner Goodell made a motion to accept the minutes as presented, seconded by Commissioner Ross.
The vote was in favor of the motion 3-0-0.
La Capra Associates representatives Stan Faryniarz and Craig Kieny spoke with the BOC in regard to the current state of the wholesale power industry. Mr. Faryniarz stated that Superintendent Considine had requested that they discuss at a minimum the following items: a) natural gas pipe line delivery constriction into the northeast that caused power prices to peak at over $100 MW (average) in the first quarter of this year, b) power supply procurements for the remainder of year 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 and c) ISONE proposed sales tax on power supply delivery across state lines.
a). Mr. Faryniarz discussed the constraints in the natural gas (NG) pipeline that caused hourly commodities trade prices for electricity to exceed $250 MW in February 2013 and through most of last winter. Though there appears to be a large supply of shale gas available at the Marcellus deposit in Pennsylvania getting the gas into the New England area is difficult due to physical pipeline constraints. The pipeline constraints also have a political aspect in which the federal government is heavily involved with regard to exportation policies that may drive up costs locally in the US. Countries such as China and Japan are willing to pay much more per BTU than what it is sold for in the US. Due to the constraints the generators had to switch over from NG to oil (at about $100 per barrel) to maintain generating capacity during the winter months. When the generators switched from NG to oil the price peaked to almost $250 MW in the first quarter in 2013. Due to the perceived capacity restrictions in the gas pipeline it is likely that power costs during peak time may be very similar to this past winter and prices are easily influenced by the weather.
b). Mr.Kieny presented the BOC with a handout that depicted the departmentís power supply resources over the next four (4) years and estimated pricing in the power futures market.
The wholesale power prices are about twenty-five (25) percent higher than the last time the department requested power and this will have a direct impact on the departmentís bottom line in 2014 and 2015, especially during the winter months due to heating loads and supply constraints discussed previously. For La Capra to solicit a request for proposal for the department they would need to know how much to purchase and for how many years. Currently the department has hedged it power position against market fluctuations limiting its open position to the spot market pricing and this strategy has worked well for the department in the past.
Superintendent Considine stated that the detail of the transactions will be worked out and discussed at the next BOC meeting and that the department would advise La Capra once the decision has been made.
Mr. Franyniarz discussed ISONE (US Federal Regulatory Commission representatives) plan to collect state sales tax on wholesale power purchased that cross state lines. It is not clear at this time whether or not ISONE would implement this proposal though it is expected that distribution end-users operating in NH would be exempt as NH has no sales tax. Worse case is that the department may have to pay Massachusetts sales taxes as the New England power grids hub is located in Western Massachusetts theoretically.
Commissioner Goodell thanked Mr. Franyniarz and Mr. Kieny for briefing the board though the message might mean high electric operating costs for the department in the near future.
Mr. Franyniarz and Mr. Kieny thanked the BOC and excused themselves from the meeting at 2:00 PM.
SUPERINTENDENT/ MANAGERS REPORT:
1. The May 14th system outage was discussed with the BOC. The cause of the outage was determined not to be on departmentís equipment or infrastructure and outside the town and state. LWL crews were in place and standing-by, ready to restore power once National Grid completed their work. It is not known why the entire Moore substation opened as the fault was on the Waterford, VT side of the station. National Grid has offered no explanation to date as to why their equipment operated the way it did.
Commissioner Ross thanked the department for keeping the BOC in the loop throughout the outage restoration process.
2. Superintendent Considine stated that he attended the last selectmen meeting and briefed the board along with Brien Ward as to what was presented to the Mill/Saranac Street Restoration Committee. Mr. Ward (via phone call) asked if the BOC would like to receive the same briefing that was presented to the BOS.
The BOC agreed that though they appreciated the offer Commissioner Moore was in attendance at the selectmenís meeting. As he heard the full presentation the BOC felt that was adequate department representation.
1. Commissioner Moore stated that the department should look into implementing a water rate increase to begin the process of reconciling the department general fund for construction of the new water storage tank.
Superintendent Considine stated that preliminary rate design is completed (about 9% or 21 cents per 750 gallons) and that he will prepare for a discussion at the June 3rd BOC meeting. The proposed rate would have an estimate month impact of about $1.00 on most residential account.
2. Commissioner Moore inquired about the land at the old airport (potential future well site) and if the property owner has made contact with the department.
Superintendent Considine stated that though the department has reached out several time the owner has not responded.
CUSTOMER & PUBLIC CONCERNS:
Superintendent Considine stated that though the power restoration went well from the departments perspective considering the response time was about ninety (90) minutes and all power was restored in just over two (2) hours he had several complaints from customers. The customers stated that they could not access the department phone system as the lines were all busy and they were not aware of what was happening and to how long the outage would last.
Commissioner Moore stated that several commercial customers spoke to him directly that they had limited information during the outage. They did not know whether or not to close for the day and send staff home and that the outage was costing them money.
Commissioner Ross stated that no business lost more money than the department did during the outage, that the duration of the outage was short and that power was restore somewhat quickly.
Superintendent Considine stated that in this instance by the time the department could confirm exactly what happened power started to be restored by National Grid personnel. During the outage more than 600 calls were processed by the front office staff. A new phone software system that is being purchased through NISC should assist in general notification though with a full system outage our options are limited as servers are powered down when on generator power. Some sort of web notification on the department site may be possible and will be explored if it can be accessed when department IT resources are limited or nonexistent. Our social type media notification avenues may be an option with the new software as well.
Commissioner Goodell made a motion to adjourn the meeting, seconded by
The vote was in favor of the motion 3-0-0.
Meeting adjourned at 2:30 p.m.
The regularly scheduled Commissionerís meeting is held twice monthly on the first and third Monday, at 1:00 p.m., in the Departmentís conference room.