Arthur S. Fulman
Philip J. Lawrence
Susan A. Miller
Gregory E. Higgins
Daniel J. Sack, Superintendent
Reliable electric service provided by friendly, customer-service driven people at a fair rate – that’s been our standard for the last 109 years. The events of 2007 continue to showcase this long-time commitment to our customers.
Concord Light signed a three-year contract for approximately half of our power supply beginning when the current contract expires in 2009 as well as began finalizing plans for dealing with the remainder of Concord’s power supply needs. Concord Light continued to install an Automatic Meter Reading system; finished the bulk of the conversion and electrical upgrade work along Main St.; sponsored a solar contest; and marketed a unique and customer driven off-peak heating and hot water programs. Read on to learn a bit more about your electric utility!
Our existing power supply contract with Constellation Energy will expire in October 2009. This favorable contract supplies all of Concord’s requirements at a low fixed price, but unfortunately cannot be extended due to higher energy prices and other market changes.
In February, Concord Light requested proposals from six creditworthy suppliers active in the power supply market and negotiated for months with all six. We selected Morgan Stanley’s offer because it had the lowest price, best credit support and acceptable contract terms. The new power supply agreement between Concord Light and Morgan Stanley will go into effect when our current contract with Constellation Energy ends in October 2009.
The decision to sign a three-year agreement with Morgan Stanley came this fall after months of work with power supply consultants to choose the most prudent option for our customers. The goal was to select an option that balances low prices, reasonable risk, and environmental responsibility. This new agreement achieves that balance.
Unlike our current contract, which now covers 100% of Concord’s power requirements, the Morgan Stanley agreement will cover about half of our projected electricity needs. The remainder will come from a mix of sources still in development, including individual power plants and spot market energy purchases.
Another change from the existing contract is that the new agreement does not include fixed prices for the electricity provided. Instead, the Morgan Stanley contract has both fixed and flexible pricing elements in order to mitigate risk in today’s volatile energy markets. Higher energy prices and market volatility mean that favorable fixed-price contracts such as the one we signed in 2001 with Constellation are no longer available. Prudent power supply management in today’s environment must include some flexibility to keep Concord Light’s power costs as low as possible.
In general, the fixed portion of the Morgan Stanley contract relates to power plant efficiency, and guarantees pricing based on electricity produced by more efficient plants. The flexible portion relates to the market price of power for any given month and is driven by demand for electricity and fuel prices, especially natural gas.
The contract’s flexibility allows Concord to lock in prices when fuel costs are favorable, or to wait for better prices when fuel costs are expected to drop. The increased level of complexity will require a carefully planned and executed risk management strategy that includes continual monitoring of the energy markets.
To help manage this and all aspects of our power supply in an increasingly complicated environment, Concord Light has joined Energy New England, a leading provider of both supply and demand-side services to the public power community.
Power Supply Costs
The largest single expense for the Light Plant, by far, is the cost for purchasing electricity and transmitting it to Concord. For 2007 this came to approximately $10,200,000, some 67% of our total expenditures. The remaining 33% funds everything else, i.e., line repairs and maintenance, construction of new facilities, employee salaries, equipment, debt, payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, insurance, conservation programs and billing operations.
In addition to the $340,000 given to the Town in-lieu-of taxes, Concord Light is involved in a number of community projects. For example:
· We encourage people to donate directly to the Salvation Army’s Good Neighbor program, which helps people in need pay their utility bills.
· The Light Plant increased, to $16,000, our contribution to the Hugh Cargill Energy Fund that helps Town residents with their electric bills.
· Since 1991, developmentally disabled workers from the Minuteman arc have stuffed and mailed our electric and water bills. And for the past eight years they have shared our office, teaching all of us the value of community partnerships.
· The Light Plant has worked closely with the newly formed Comprehensive Sustainable Energy Committee. We share their long-term goals and support their endeavors. To aid their efforts, we provide all the data they request (while keeping our customer’s personal data private) as well as our future power supply plans, which include renewable resources.
· This year’s ninth annual calendar contest, artwork provided by selected public school 3rd and 4th graders, and the electric safety program were the result of an ongoing collaborative effort with the public schools.
· Once again thousands of lights light up the night in Concord Center and West Concord during the Christmas season, thanks to a partnership between Concord Light and the Town of Concord. 2007, though, marked a difference. We upgraded all the bulbs to environmentally friendly led-light emitting diode-lights. The change will save the Town more than $1,100 in electricity costs this year alone. led lights are initially more expensive than standard bulbs, but save over time since they consume far less energy. They also require much less energy to manufacture than other light sources, which further reduces their environmental impact. The new leds are rated to last more than 10 times longer than the standard incandescent bulbs they are replacing, cutting both maintenance and replacement costs. They are also more resistant to breakage, and give off less heat than standard bulbs.
· Line crews installed outdoor electric outlet panels and the Light Plant provided free electricity for the annual Picnic in the Park celebration.
We continued our work with broadband over powerline (BPL) technology through the exploration of a business partnership with Power Grid Communications. Unfortunately, this partnership did not develop as planned as their approach to Smart Grid (a promising method of using power lines to provide a variety of operational and retail services) applications was very expensive and required heavy monthly fees from Concord Light to support network deployment. As a result, we have changed strategies and have hired a consultant to help guide us through the technical and financial analysis of different versions of BPL equipment.
An evaluation of BPL equipment will be conducted through a Pilot Program where two or three vendor products will be deployed in designated test areas in Concord. Smart Grid applications and Internet access services will be tested on these vendor products. An rfp for the Pilot Program was issued in December and we expect to start the pilot in February, 2008.
Two telecommunications projects for Town departments were started in 2007 and are completed or near completion. The first project involved the interconnection of automated alarm notification equipment between the Fire Department Headquarters and the West Concord Fire Station. Fiber conversion equipment was installed for two separate circuits on the fiber network and was placed in service in October. These circuits replaced troublesome, copper Verizon lines.
The Police and Fire Departments also requested that an existing Verizon circuit connecting the radio dispatch center on Walden Street with the radio transmitter on Annursnac Hill be converted to the Town fiber network. This required the construction of two miles of additional fiber network from the existing Town fiber ring at Barrett’s Mill and Strawberry Hill to the radio tower on Annursnac Hill. A total of 24 strands of fiber were installed successfully in November and the circuit was placed on the fiber in early December. Police and Fire personnel have requested an additional two circuits be converted between these same sites.
The Water Department asked that we investigate the acquisition and installation of broadband wireless equipment that would allow the extension of their scada network to the new Deaconess Water Pump Station on ornac. They requested that this technology be investigated for two additional sites - White Pond and Second Division Well (Border Road). We received Motorola Canopy system training and equipment for this purpose. Because of extensive manufacturing delays, this equipment was not received until September and is not expected to be fully installed and tested until early 2008. If successful, the Canopy system could be deployed in other new Water Department sites over time.
The Atrica fiber optic transmission system that had been installed to support the voice and data services on the Town Fiber Ring will need to be replaced due to technical support issues. A new vendor has been selected and their equipment has been delivered and will be installed in early 2008. The new equipment will allow us to expand the ring to include a sixth fiber node at the Harvey Wheeler Center.
Virginia Road Project
One of our largest electric circuits was energized this fall after being converted from overhead to underground. This includes transferring all of the overhead primary distribution circuits to the new underground system. The project took several years to complete and significant coordination with some of our customers, both residential and large commercial. The new circuit is more reliable than the old one and has room for future growth.
Automated Meter Reading
Installation of a new Automatic Meter Reading system began in the fall of 2005 and continued through 2007. Approximately 65% of the Town’s electric meters have now been upgraded. This new technology will allow us to read electric and water meters from a vehicle while driving down the street. The new system will increase meter reading accuracy, eliminate the need for meter readers to enter upon private property, avoid special meter reading appointments for meters located inside, improve the operating efficiency of the Light Plant and reduce our cost. Installation will be completed in 2008.
School Safety programs
Again this past fall, with the help of safety consultant Ray Gouley, the 3rd grade students in the public schools learned about electric safety. The program focuses on the potential dangers of electricity outdoors and was very well received – by both students and teachers alike.
Over 200 3rd and 4th grade children from Concord public schools submitted artwork in our annual contest for inclusion in the 2008 calendar. As usual, the judging was very difficult. The winning artists received a t-shirt with their art piece emblazoned on the front and a collage of all the chosen pictures on the back. Totebags with a collage were given to the teachers of winning students as well. The Calendar Contest would not have been possible without the able help of Diane Kablik, the k-5 Science Curriculum Specialist who was invaluable in helping to coordinate this fun and educational event.
The service provides customers with an automated alternative for paying their electric and water bills. With over 1,000 customers participating, this program, operated in partnership with the Water Division of the cpw and the Finance Department, has been a resounding success. Each customer’s bill due amount is directly deducted from their bank account, saving them both time and postage.
This service began in January 2006 and has been very successful. Customers can now pay their bills through an encryption secured online bill payment center. They can also view their bills online and track their past electricity consumption. This approach also saves time and postage and lets the customer decide when to pay their bill.
Residential Rate Assistance
Last year we began a new program to help those in financial need. Customers eligible for our Residential Rate Assistance program will be able to lower their bills by as much as 30%. As of December 2007, 69 customers were taking advantage of the program. Qualifications and an application form can be found on our web pages: www.concordma.gov/cmlp.
Energy Conservation Programs
Appliance Rebate Program
This very popular program encourages customers to purchase efficient Energy Star rated appliances. These energy-efficient appliances typically save between 15-50% in energy costs, which saves customers money and helps the environment.
Eligibility is based on the Energy Star program established by the Department of Energy. Appliances that qualify for the rebate include refrigerators, clothes washers, dishwashers, central air-conditioners, room air conditioners and dehumidifiers. Rebates range from $50-$150. In 2007, rebates totaling over $21,000 were given out.
Light Bulb Rebate Program
This very popular program allows customers to receive up to a $5 credit on their electric bill for every compact fluorescent or led exit sign kit they purchase. These bulbs use as much as two-thirds less electricity as compared to standard incandescent bulbs, which in turn reduces the emission of carbon dioxide into the air from fossil fuel electricity generating power plants. Last year nearly $14,000 was credited to participating customers, an increase of more than 40% compared to 2006.
Residential Conservation Service
This complimentary service, contracted through Energy New England, helps Concord Light customers answer their energy related questions. If required, an energy advisor may be sent to the home to do a complete home energy evaluation. In addition, our Appliance Calculator, located at www.concordma.gov/cmlp, allows customers to determine how much each appliance in their home costs to run.
Municipal Building Audit Program
The Light Plant’s Municipal Building Audit Program allows other municipal departments to determine their building’s current energy efficiency quotient and also offers a rebate for eligible measures that result in a payback to the Town’s ratepayers of less than five years. There is no charge to the Town for this service. This year cchs took advantage of this program.
In 2003, the Light Plant began signing up customers interested in “green” power produced at the Acton Hydro Co., Inc. Powder Mill dam on the Assabet River near the intersection of Concord, Acton, Maynard and Sudbury. Unfortunately, due to a cave-in along the spillway that runs adjacent to the dam, the startup of the project has been delayed. Permits for the project have now been issued and it is hoped that with luck and plenty of water flow in the Assabet River, Acton Hydro could be sending green power to Concord by late 2008. When the plant does become operational, this non-polluting power will be sold at a small premium, $3.00 per 100 kWh block (the average customer uses about 925 kWhs each month).
ets/Water heater Program
Our Electric Thermal Storage (ets) heater program continues to be marketed. Currently we control a bit more than 1,700 kW of load in the winter including over fifty residences, saving Concord ratepayers tens of thousands of dollars each year in avoided transmission and demand charges. In the future, this program will favorably affect our power supply decisions and help keep rates low.
ets heaters are charged off peak, when electricity costs are low. The stored heat is then used during on-peak periods. Off-peak charging saves the Light Plant on-peak premium costs. These savings are passed on to the customer, which currently make ets operating costs significantly lower than oil and gas for home heating.
We also continue to offer our residential off-peak domestic hot water (dhw) program. Participating customers have their dhw tank’s charging time “shifted” to avoid expensive peak electricity charges. Currently, the water heaters of approximately 400 customers are controlled. In exchange, these customers receive a reduced rate for water heating, saving each over $200 per year, all while not causing a noticeable difference in their hot water supply.
The Concord Municipal Light Plant operates as a completely self-sustaining, non-profit, Enterprise Fund within the Town. No property tax money is required or used. All operating expenses, capital investments, and debt service are paid from electric revenues. In addition, the Light Plant contributes to the Town via a Payment-in-Lieu-of Taxes (pilot). For 2007 this formula based payment was $340,000 and is at least the equivalent of the property taxes that would be paid by a non-municipal utility.
Construction Activity for 2007
As in years past, 2007 proved to be very busy on the construction front. Listed below are the many projects that were completed in 2007.
· Main Street Utility Improvement Project. Installed new underground distribution circuits between River Street and Sudbury Road.
· Stow and Everett Streets. Installed service conduits.
· Virginia Road underground project. Removed existing overhead electrical facilities.
· Subtransmission feeder to Substation 479. Upgraded a 50 plus year old 13.8 kV underground sub transmission feeder.
· 219-h12 Distribution circuit. Upgraded a 50 plus year old section of the 13.8 kV underground circuit.
· Emerson. Installed an underground distribution system to accommodate the new s.c.o.r.e.project including switchgear and transformers.
· Circuit 223-h8 Designed a new 13.8 kV 600 amp circuit to address load growth at New England Deaconess and Emerson Hospital. Reconfigured station getaway to accommodate the new circuit.
· Munroe Place. Designed and built a new underground distribution system to replace the existing direct buried system.
· Reconfigured underground 13.8 kV distribution system to accommodate new load on Macone Farm Lane.
· Fiber Optic Project. Replaced fiber optic cable from the cmlp Operations center to the intersection of Barrett’s Mill Rd. and Strawberry Hill Rd. Installed fiber optic cables on Strawberry Hill Rd and Annursnac Hill.
· Designed and built a new underground distribution system to feed 1273 Elm Street.
· Installed a new underground distribution system to feed the Deaconess pumping station on ornac.
· Installed conduits to replace existing direct buried 4 kV system at the White Pond Well.
· Reconfigured 13.8 kV underground distribution system at the Wastewater Treatment Facility to accommodate the plant upgrade.
· Designed and installed conduits for future overhead to underground conversion on Cambridge Turnpike.
· Installed secondary conduits under roadway on Kenny Lane and Philip Farm Rd.
· Upgraded antiquated underground 13.8 kV cables that feed 22 and 30 Monument Square.
· Installed hvac equipment at Substation 219 to create a controlled environment for the station equipment.
· Overhead facilities. Replaced approximately 200 overhead fused cutouts and brackets to increase reliability.
Reconductored overhead distribution system on Garland Rd., Hosmer Rd., Wilson Rd., Crescent Rd., and Musketaquid Road. Replace failed overhead gang switch on pole 1 Baker Ave.
Personnel and Training
The line division continued to receive safety training on a variety of topics including electrical procedures, manhole gas dangers and work practices. The meter division took part in safety training and the department received fire safety training. osha Rules and Regulations were also reviewed for any updates.