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, April 16, 2012 in the Littleton Water and Light Department (LWL) conference room. Present were Commissioner Eddy Moore, Commissioner Perry Goodell and Commissioner Ralph Ross, Financial Services Director Cheryl Wilkins, and Superintendent Thomas Considine.
The minutes of April 2, 2012 regularly scheduled Commissioners meeting were reviewed. Commissioner Ross made a motion to accept the minutes as presented, seconded by Commissioner Moore.
The vote was in favor 3-0-0.
La Capra Associates representative Mr. Stan Faryniarz and Energy Initiatives representative Mr. Craig Kieny briefed the BOC in regard to the state of the wholesale power supply market.
1. Mr. Kieny stated that at the direction of Mr. Considine they have been working on several preliminary power supply agreements with potential wholesale power vendors and expect to have the draft documents ready for LWL’s review soon. Once the pre-qualifying process is complete several new bidders will be added to the departments bid list which will make the bid proposal process more competitive. The department is hedged about 80 - 85 percent against the spot market in 2012 and 2013 and has no resources beyond 2013. Superintendent Considine stated that he would discuss with the BOC and get back to them as to how much if any additional resources to procure once the new bidders have been pre-qualified.
2. Mr. Faryniarz reviewed a graph with the BOC that depicted the downward trend in natural gas (NG) futures price (Henry Hub) over the past twelve (12) months which is the major fuel used in the generation of electric by the majority of the plants. The NG prices are at their lowest levels since 2004 and many products are discussing curtailing production of NG and switching over to crude oil production as a barrel of crude oil is at over $100 per barrel.
As this is an election year the federal regulators are unlikely to become too involved in this discussion and they expect that price will level out during the last half of 2012. The National Hurricane Service is predicting less than normal activity this season which is also contributing to keeping prices low. Transmission costs are expected to keep rising upward for the next several years though congestion has been relieved somewhat in southern NE. The closing of the coal generation plants should only have a local affect on the wholesale market for that particular supplier, as the market is driven by the NG production.
The department’s recently approved Moody’s Investments Services credit rating of A1 (third highest investment grade rating) is a credit to the department’s fiscal conservative operating approach. The A1 rating should guaranty that the departments secures below market pricing, and has the potential to save the department up to $10 per megawatt on future power supply transactions. Mr. Faryniarz requested a copy of the Moody’s credit report when it is available as they will not enter into a contract with a supplier that has a lower rating than the departments.
3. Mr. Faryniarz asked if the department was interested in procuring renewable energy resources to diversify it energy portfolio, though municipals are exempt from the regulation that cover how much of a company’s resources are a renewable source. The up front capital investment is expensive at the front end though it should payoff throughout the term of the project. Landfill (methane) generation plants have the highest capacity factor of any of the renewable resources though extracting the gas is costly.
Commissioner Ross asked what the average prices were for purchasing renewable energy resources from landfill gas and bi-mass production plant were. Mr. Faryniarz stated that generally they are $65 to $70 a megawatt. Mr. Considine stated that the spot market closed in March at around $30 and all the departments current contracts are under the renewable energy selling price.
4. Superintendent Considine stated that La Capra Associates is in the process of developing rate tariffs for light emitting diodes (LED) street light applications and asked if they could discuss this with the BOC.
Mr. Faryniarz stated that they have been working with the State of Vermont’s Energy Commission because the state mandated that all street lights be replaced with LED fixtures, though no date has been established. The problem is that there is a huge capital investment up front and the return on any investment is minimal and takes many years to recoup.
As typically street lighting consumption is negligible when considering the total monthly/ yearly consumption of the system the return of investment could take over ten (10) years. To mitigate some of the expenses the rate tariffs will be set higher until the system has recovered their initial costs.
The BOC thanked Mr. Faryniarz and Mr. Kieny for attending the meeting and both left the meeting at 2:10 PM.
1. Bids are due on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 at 3:00 pm for building a new water storage tank at the top of School Street. Participation and interest in this project is good and many excavating contractors appear interested and have purchased the project contract documents.
Commissioners Goodell asked if a special BOC meeting should be convened to award the project prior to the next scheduled meeting on May 7, 2012. Superintendent Considine stated that during the pre bid meeting that a late May or early June start up could be expected. After some discussion the BOC agreed that no special meeting was needed at this time as the timeline already made accommodations for a June start up.
2. The NH Department of Transportation (NHDOT) proposed plan to shut of thirty-eight (38) interstate ramp lights was discussed. The BOC agrees that due to the plan proposed by the NHDOT was not straight forward when you consider that traffic control and that each light will have to be worked on and feels that charges of service rendered is prudent in this situation. Superintendent Considine stated that he has already made the NHDOT aware that due to the nature of the requested work and the location of the lights that charges would be passed on to the NHDOT. The NHDOT asked if the Town of Littleton would be interested in taking over the maintenance of these lights so that they would not have to be shut off. The email was forwarded to the town manager attention for a decision at their next meeting. LWL will wait for a reply before addressing this request.
3. Superintendent Considine suggested that once the financial statements are available for the month ended March 2012 that electric rate realignment is needed. Transmission services and wholesale power supply need to reflect the actual costs as they are considered “pass-through” items on the rate tariffs. The BOC agreed with Superintendent Considine’s suggestion and authorized the realignment following review and discussion by the BOC.
4. Office staff personnel will be sitting in on a web demonstration of the Harris North Star Utility billing software suite. The North Star software is Harris Computers premier package and is capable of processing smart meter applications which is not available in our current software (InHance Technologies - 2005 software start up). Though the department is on the smaller side of the recommended number of users, the North Star product possesses the functionality that is inline with our current operating office process and in a more user friendly way overall. There is no timeline established for implementation at this time as this is the preliminary needs assessment meeting with Harris Computer.
5. The water leaking at the top of Elm Street has caused some consternation between the department and the Littleton Department of Public Works (DPW) for several months. There has been much discussion between the department and the DPW as to the source of the water coming up through the pavement near the Oak Hill intersection. This is typically a wet area and has presented a problem over the last several years for the DPW. The department contended that it was unlikely that this was a water main leak due to the absence of a chlorine residual and that all reservoirs were at normal operating levels. During repair the DPW discovered that a roadway under drain disturbed several years ago when the DPW first attempted to address the initial problem was cut off, and never reattached into the main drain pipe. The source of the water leak was a back up of drainage water caused by the broken under drain that was not properly tied back into the drainage system following the initial DPW attempted repair.
Commissioner Goodell stated that he has not seen anything officially advising him that he had been reappointed to the LWL BOC for a three (3) year term but read it in the paper and it was on channel 2.
Commissioner Goodell made a motion to nominate Commissioner Ross to act as the BOC President for the next year, seconded by Commissioner Moore. Some discussion preceded the vote and Commission Ross accepted the nomination.
The vote was in favor 2-0-1. Commissioner Ross abstained from the vote.
Commission Goodell made a motion that Commissioner Moore and Superintendent Considine remain Secretary and Treasurer (non-voting) respectively for the department through the next year, Seconded by Commission Ross.
The vote was in favor 2-0-1. Commissioner Moore abstained from the vote.
The BOC agreed that the department’s officer realignment would be effective on May 1, 2012.
Commissioner Ross made a motion to adjourn the meeting, seconded by
Meeting adjourned at 2:45 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.