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 business meeting of the Littleton Water and Light (LWL) Board of Commissioners (BOC) began at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, October 4, 2021 in the LWL conference room. Present were Commissioner Peter Cooper, Commissioner Ralph Ross, Commissioner Linda MacNeil, Director of Finance Lori Hogan and Superintendent Thomas Considine.
The minutes of the September 20, 2021 regularly scheduled Commissioners meeting were reviewed. Commissioner MacNeil made a motion to accept the minutes as presented, seconded by Commissioner Ross.
The vote was in favor of the motion 3-0-0
Mr. John Soininen representing Brookfield Renewables (via telephone) advised the BOC that they have acquired the rights for ninety (90) days to discuss the Blueberry Ridge Solar farm project with the affected parties from Lendlease Energy. The proposed 26 MW solar farm would be interconnected to LWL 34.5 kV substransmission line on property adjacent to Meadow Street. The project was under development with Lendlease for several years though no action has been taken recently. Mr. Soininen asked the BOC if they were still interested in proceeding with the project.
Mr. Considine stated that LWL cannot reasonably answer that question as the project engineering review is not complete. LWL entered an engineering feasibility study with Lendlease and only one (1) out of the five (5) phase was completed so there is still some work to do before LWL make an informed decision.
Commissioner Cooper stated that the protective relay schemes and how the reverse flow will affect those schemes still needs to be determined in addition to a risk benefits analysis. There will be some type of interconnection fee for wheeling PV output to the grid over and through LWL lines and it will not be for free.
Commissioner MacNeil stated that she wants to insure that LWL system integrity remains unchanged. As the size of the array is more than twice the capacity of LWL demand she feels that all the steps in the engineering feasibility study needs to be completed.
Mr. Considine stated that a wheeling charge could be for example a monthly fixed connection fee plus a variable cost per kWh for the solar array output going back towards Comerford Station which will utilize over seven (7) miles of LWL overhead lines.
Mr. Soininen stated that he would like a firm commitment from the BOC prior to proceeding with further analysis that LWL will allow the interconnection as he is attempting to bring a renewable energy source that would be beneficial to Littleton.
Commissioner Ross stated that Mr. Soininen has not provided any tangible benefits proposal to LWL for consideration and that would be contingent upon the complete engineering review. Until the engineering study is complete and the risk to benefits for the LWL system and its customers have been properly analyzed and determined, no vote on the interconnection will happen.
During some back-and-forth discussion Mr. Soininen stated that the array output was reduced to 21 MW and that they cannot connect to the Eversource U199 115kV line as it would not be economical to do so and that there is not enough capacity remaining in the line (Note: This revelation was new to LWL). Mr. Soininen stated that he would try to pull together a benefits proposal for LWL to consider but stated that the wheeling charges did not make sense to him. He thanked the BOC for their time and terminated the telephone call.
LWL will check with ESC Engineering about the status of the Blueberry Ridge engineering feasibility study completed to date and their experience and opinions regarding a project of this size and scope and the impact on smaller systems.
DIRECTOR of FINANCE and HUMAN RESOURCES REPORT:
1. The LWL annual flu clinic is scheduled for Monday, October 18th at 7:30 a.m. typically the Commissioners can opt in and participate.
2. The Town of Littleton financial officer asked for a LWL’s budget number for their 2022 as they are beginning their warrant and budget committee processes. They were notified that no information is available at this time.
Superintendent Considine reviewed LWL’s typical timeline about budget development, decision period and approval process with the BOC remarking that this timeline may have to flex when an agreement is reached with the DRA/Town following litigation.
3. Notchnet is preparing another video segment that will highlight the reasons why fire hydrant flushing is conducted. They recently videoed a hydrant replacement at the corner of Elm Street and Oak Hill Avenue that LWL personnel discovered that was inoperable. Notchnet is also working on another segment as a follow-up piece to the electrical system upgrade/voltage conversion article along West Main Street.
4. Propane and oil price for 2021-2022 were discussed regarding locking in contract prices. Though no price data was available for propane Commissioner MacNeil made a motion to accept the low fuel oil bid price provided by CN Brown, seconded by Commissioner Ross.
The vote was in favor of the motion 3-0-0.
SUPERINTENDENT/GENERAL MANAGERS REPORT:
1. The NHDES written response to LWL Large Groundwater Withdrawal Permit and Application was reviewed and discussed. Geosphere is actively responding to some of NHDES concerns regarding private wells within 4,000 feet of the proposed Lafayette wellhead.
2. LWL is a new member of Dig Safe as of October 1st LWL will begin receiving email of planned excavation activities within the geographically boundary of Littleton. Dig Safe is a central notification clearing house that contacts a 3rd party locating service (i.e., On Target) that an excavation is pending in a member’s service territory. Though calling the Dig Safe notification center is required by law many contractors forget to contact their local utility company, which is a condition of the permit, this has caused issues for LWL in the past. The cost for membership is $1.00 per notification as LWL’s buried infrastructure will continue to be located by LWL personnel. In the last 12-months about 300 Dig Safe requests were filed in Littleton.
3. National Grid notified LWL that they are moving their transformer substation located adjacent to Moore Reservoir Hydroelectric Station toward Pattenville. Impact to LWL is expected to be minimal and relocated substation may shorten about four (4) spans from LWL transmission circuit T30. No other information was available as the project is in its feasibility study phase and the full scope of the project has not been defined.
Power supply was discussed with the BOC. Dave Camardese from Next Era Energy paid LWL an office visit to discuss current market conditions and the anticipated and dramatic increase in wholesale futures especially during the 2021-2022 winter season. Wholesale future prices are being sold at $ 135 to $ 125 per MWh for the month of January 2022 and February 2022 respectively. Next Era attributes the sharp increase in natural gas price which drive the electricity markets to a drop in natural gas reserves volumes.
The economic slowdown and shut down of many larger industries over the past year forced some coal generating asset that were used to trim/balance load to be taken offline and they have not started back up due to geopolitical operating environment and other industry pressures. This has forced natural gas fired plants to make up the difference leading to a shortage in the natural gas reserves headed into winter. It is expect that reserve will balance out and prices may come down somewhat.
Mr. Camardese commented that LWL may want to consider a hybrid type of load following product that would provide another layer of insulation from the fluctuation in the spot market. He will present LWL with a proposal to consider that will limit LWL exposure to market fluctuation.
Though LWL wholesale power supply is hedged mostly for 2022 a significantly cold spell could drive January and February load higher than forecasted. If this take place LWL will be required to purchase additional resources directly off the spot market at a price that is more than 250% higher than the cost of LWL’s current contracts.
There being no further business to come before the board Commissioner Ross made a motion to adjourn the meeting, seconded by Commissioner MacNeil.
The vote was in favor of the motion 3-0-0.
Meeting adjourned at 2:37 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.