A heavy workload caused by the increasing complexities of the utility business prompted the Light Board to step up its monthly meetings to every three weeks in 1990. That same year, a customer newsletter was introduced to keep customers informed about their utility, especially on issues related to policy, energy conservation and the environment.
Renovations, Remodels & New Center Construction
Facing the need to update and expand, the Board approved plans to remodel the garage facility in the early 90’s. The renovation, a short-term measure to relieve immediate problems, included storage electric heaters in the garage’s office area to serve as a demonstration project. That same year, the Board voted to support the concept of a land swap with the state to acquire a 25 acre parcel of land on Route 2A for construction of a new consolidated operations center. The new center would be a long-term solution to a decades-old need for expanded office, garage, warehouse and storage facilities in one efficient location.
Power Supply Costs & Rate Relief
There was good news concerning power supply costs in the spring of 1993, when a favorable power contract with Boston Edison was signed. The new contract was designed to save Concord Municipal Light Plant (CMLP) some $22 million over 22 years, and resolved five pieces of litigation including a $3.5 million refund to CMLP. Also in 1993, CMLP sold back to Edison the use rights for the 14 kilovolt distribution facilities that were acquired in 1980. The rights were no longer necessary, thanks to Concord’s new 115,000 volt substation.
Additional rate relief came that fall in the form of low-cost hydro power from Hydro Quebec in Canada. Concord joined 38 other New England electric utilities in signing the seven-year contract, which also offered three years of extensions.
System improvements continued on several fronts in this decade, highlighted by the completion of the 115,000-volt substation on Forest Ridge Road in 1994. The new substation is expected to serve the Town’s needs for the next 30 years. Work also continued on upgrading Concord’s electric distribution system to 13,800 volts throughout Town, and on moving electric wires and equipment underground.
Electric industry changes took center stage in 1995, when the state’s Department of Public Utilities embraced the concept of a restructured electric industry designed to encourage retail competition among utilities. On January 1, 1998, Gordon Robinson retired as Line Foreman after 37 years of exemplary service with the Light Plant.
Deregulation legislation authorizing competition for retail electric customers was signed into law in Massachusetts on November 26, 1997. With the new law in place, the electric industry stands on the brink of tremendous change. And while current law does not require public power communities such as Concord to participate in deregulation, it is currently unclear how changes outside Concord may ultimately affect electric customers here. Whatever lies beyond the horizon, we’re confident that CMLP will be ready.