MUNICIPAL ELECTRIC POWER ADVISORY BOARD
December 18, 2007
HMLD 7:00 p.m.
Members Present: Chairman Robert Hamer, and Members Gary Harrington, Donna Fitch, Peter Liddy, John Shepherd, and Tom Runstrom
Also Present: Kenneth O'Brien, Selectman, Brian Bullock, Town/Light Manager, Diane Mero, Financial Operations, Michael Flagg, General Foreman, Margaret Donaldson, Office Manager
On a motion by Donna Fitch, seconded by Peter Liddy, the minutes from September 30, 2007 were approved as submitted.
Broadband Feasibility Study
A feasibility study of Broadband services was reviewed by Brian Bullock. The study was prepared by Tom Josie, private consultant and Manager of the Shrewsbury Light Department. The study indicated that the Broadband business is highly competitive and further indicated that it would be unlikely that a Department with a relatively small geographic and technological base could compete with other businesses providing the service like Charter and Verizon. Further, the HMLD would be required to make a substantial investment in a venture that would take years to break even. The Board members discussed this study and concurred with its recommendations.
Mike Flagg reported that the Bullard Street Substation is on-line and running well. To address concerns voiced by some nearby residents, the Department will be undertaking a noise study and will likely make some recommendations in the future pending the results of the study.
MMWEC Rate Comparison Study
Mr. Bullock outlined the results of a rate comparison study published by the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Corporation. The study shows that Holden's rates compare very favorably with other publicly and privately owned utilities. Mr. Shepherd agreed that Holden's electric rates are a good deal for our customers.
Power Supply - Energy Audit
Diane Mero reviewed a study underway of the Department's power portfolio by Energy New England (ENE). Two-thirds of the department's load is currently bought on the spot market. The consultant is looking for opportunities to reduce the department's dependence on short term contracts. There was further discussion about this study and its potential for cost savings.
Appliance Rebate Program
Margaret Donaldson reviewed the Department's appliance rebate program. Based on the success of last spring's program, Ms. Donaldson said that the Department would again partner with Percy's of Worcester, MA for a one-day event when town residents could double their rebate. That one-day event would likely occur again in the late spring of 2008.
The HMLD Web site has been further developed by HMLD Staff. The site contains a variety of useful information on rates, programs and energy saving tips. There is also a link to a page specifically designed for young people.
2008 Operating and Capital Budget
The proposed budget for 2008 was presented to the Board. A new column was added to compare what was budgeted and what was actually expended for each account. Based on revenue and sales projections, it appears that the Department will have to implement an increase in its Power Cost Adjustment (PCA) factor some time in the spring. Management wants to delay the increase until after the cold winter months, to lessen the cost burden on our customers. Another major change is the reduction in Depreciation Expense from five to three percent (3%). This will lessen the expense side of the Department's budget while still maintaining an adequate balance in the Depreciation Fund.
The budget also contains funding for an electronic sign to replace the Town sign at the intersection of Main and Shrewsbury Streets. And, the capital budget supports funding for a study of solar photo-voltaic technology.
On a motion by Donna Fitch, seconded by Tom Runstrom, the Municipal Electric Power Advisory Board voted to approve the 2008 budget as submitted. The budget will be finalized and brought before the Selectmen for their approval at their first meeting in January 2008.
There being no further business, the Municipal Electric Power Advisory Board meeting was adjourned by consensus at approximately 8:45 p.m.