Serving the Community since 1903

Minutes of Littleton Water and Light Meetings

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.

Minutes for 2015

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Regular Meeting Jul 20, 2015

The regularly scheduled Board of Commissioners (BOC) meeting began at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, July 20, 2015 in the Littleton Water and Light Department (LWL) conference room. Present were Commissioner Ralph Ross, Commissioner Eddy Moore (via telephone), Commissioner Perry Goodell, Financial Services Director Cheryl Wilkins and Superintendent Thomas Considine.

Also in attendance were members of the department’s health care review committee Mrs. Sharon Hampson and Mr. Paul Bresnahan.

MINUTES REVIEW:

The minutes of the July 6, 2015 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.

GENERAL BUSINESS:

Superintendent Considine provided the BOC with a brief background with regard to why the department has been researching and reviewing alternative health care insurance providers. This health care review was the direct result of changes made by the department’s current health care insurance provider the New England Electrical Workers Benefits Fund (NEEWBF). Recently published changes to the rate and benefits plan structure offered by the NEEWBF are no longer a cost effective option for the department’s continuing health care needs. The NEEWBF has provided the department with minimal communications and little warning prior to implementing the new changes. This has caused much consternation among employees.

A committee to research available plan options was established and consisted of Cheryl Wilkins (management), Sharon Hampson (office staff), Paul Bresnahan (shop steward) and Superintendent Considine (sat in when available) with Mrs. Wilkins taking the lead role.

Mrs. Wilkins stated that each of the plans presented to the department for review were similar in structure to the department existing benefits plan provided by the NEEWBF so that a proper comparison could be made.

Mr. Bresnahan commented that the union attempted to assist the department in finding an alternative plan provider. A meeting was held earlier this spring and the IBEW national plan was presented to the department, the only issue was that only ten (10) percent of non-union employees were eligible to enroll.

Mrs. Wilkins commented that as LWL is a small group and it is important that the group be kept together and the cost of all the plan reviewed including the unions national plan were all in same range though the benefits varied.

After reviewing and comparing each of the available plans offered the committee recommended that the department switch its health care provider to Health Trust. LWL would be placed in a group with others employers with less than one-hundred (100) employees. The committee recommended medical coverage plan would be Blue Choice R10/25/40, M/10/40/70.

The plan is in the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield network with no deductible and offers employees point-of-service (self-referral at an additional cost) or doctor referral, dental and vision coverage would be provided by Northeast Delta Dental.

Superintendent Considine stated that though the total cost of this plan is initially slightly more expensive ($14,740/ year) than the NEEWBF there are no deductibles, co-pays are significantly less and the coverage is as good or better. Economically it is presently a better deal for the department to remain with NEEWBF for now, though employees will pay significantly more in out of pocket expenses and premiums, especially for spousal coverage. It is expected that the NEEWBF will most likely raise its rates the next time their trustees meet making the Health Trust plan a better and more cost effective option for employees and the department in the long term.

Following some general discussion Commissioner Goodell made a motion to terminate all health care and ancillary services with the NEEWBF effective Monday, August 31, 2015, seconded by Commissioner Ross.

Vote was in favor of the motion 3-0-0.

Commissioner Goodell made a motion to accept the health care committee’s recommendation and proposal submitted by Health Trust to provide health care service with regard to the Blue Choice plan R10/25/40, seconded by Commissioner Ross.

Vote was in favor of the motion 3-0-0.

NEEWBF has not officially notified the department nor did they provide the department adequate or timely notice (less than 60 days) that they were changing their benefits structure, and NEEWBF implemented their latest rate change without notifying the department’s accounts payable. To keep cost down for all, Health Trust has assured the department that all employees can be enrolled and active by midnight on Tuesday, September 1, 2015. Open enrollment meeting(s) and plan benefit information presentations will be scheduled in early August to transfer employees into the Health Trust Anthem network.

SUPERINTENDENT/ GENERAL MANAGERS REPORT:

1. A storm related incident on the Vermont end of the 3315 line (34.5 KV overhead feed) that connects Littleton (at Pattenville) to Commerford Hydroelectric Station failed causing a system wide outage at about 0230 hours on Monday, July 20, 2015. Power was restored remotely via supervisory control as National Grid switched the 3315 line to Moore Station at about 0300 hours. No other information is available at this time.

2. The department replaced sixty (60) feet of water main on Cottage Street under the I-93 overpass and replaced a six (6) inch valve at the road junction of Herbert lane and Cottage Street last week. This section of line was switched to low pressure (Oak Hill gravity zone) and roadway paving is schedule for both areas the week of July 27, 2015.

3. There is an option to purchase 5 MW of base load energy attached to the Forward Capacity deal that the department executed with Next Era Energy back in January 2015 that was not execute due to price fluctuation. The energy option (available until December 31, 2015) would provide about 220,000 MWh Around-The-Clock (ATC) power to the department starting in 2018-2022 and would hedge about 45% of the departments resource requirement against the wholesale spot market.

On Friday, Next Era verbally offered the energy option at $49.25 which is sixty (60) cents less than their January offer which equates to a saving of about $103,000 over the term of the deal. There is limited forward data to support wholesale energy pricing that far in the future or what impact the forward capacity market will have on the energy market as a result of the planned closing of some generation assets that are support to occur by 2018.

La Capra Associates was asked to provide an option with regard to how the capacity market may affect wholesale energy prices in the future. Stan Faryniarz through email stated that energy and capacity are not particular related, capacity is a metric to gauge how much generation is available and energy is use over time, and as this deal is several year in the future there is not creditable data to provide a logical comparison. As the $49.25 price offered is in line with the current budget and the annual hours purchased amounts to about less than half of the total resources required there are still additional resources to purchase during that period. If prices drop we could diversify and mitigate the $49.25 price with less expenses load so “how wrong can we be”.

Following some additional discussion the BOC agreed that to exercise the option as long as the price remained at $49.25 or lower.

ADJOURNMENT:

Commissioner Moore made a motion to adjourn the meeting, seconded by
Commissioner Goodell.

The vote was in favor of the motion 3-0-0.

Meeting adjourned at 1:50 p.m.

The regularly scheduled Commissioner’s meeting is held twice monthly on the first and third Monday, at 1:00 p.m., in the Department’s conference room.


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