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, December 2, 2019 in the Littleton Water and Light (LWL) conference room. Present were Commissioner Peter Cooper, Commissioner Schuyler Sweet, Commissioner Ralph Ross, Financial Director Cheryl Wilkins and Superintendent Thomas Considine.
The minutes of the November 18, 2019 regularly scheduled Commissioners meeting were reviewed. Commissioner Sweet made a motion to accept the minutes as presented, seconded by Commissioner Ross.
The vote was in favor of the motion 3-0-0
Mrs. Dianne Cummings, Vice Chairperson of the Littleton Budget Committee addressed the BOC with regard to the Town of Littleton 2020 operating budget. She stated that she is very concerned with the tax rate in town and the burden placed on the taxpayer. The sewer rates are projected to increase by more than twenty (20) percent and Grafton County is projecting a rate increase as well. She would like to gauge whether or not LWL is anticipating any rate increases before the budget committee votes. Specifically, she wanted to know 1) if LWL rates are projected to increase due to the LWL proposed operating budget and capital expenditures and 2) how does LWL interact with the town with regard to project planning and coordination as not to duplicating work (i.e. paving). She also stated that she took it upon herself to approach LWL in an effort to review all pending and proposed tax impacts on the taxpayers.
Commissioner Sweet stated that LWL was chartered over 100 years ago to operate independently of the town’s political structure and by legislation LWL is not an operational department under the Town of Littleton. Based on LWL’s 2020 proposed budget LWL does not anticipate a rate increase in 2020 providing all things remain equal (i.e. weather, sale, and expenses). This is a good message to bring back to the budget committee.
Mrs. Cummings stated that she was hoping that a representative from LWL, either a Commissioner or Tom could brief the budget committee for about fifteen (15) minutes so that she is not caught in the middle. She stated that they would keep the agenda tight as to stay on topic and focus on the three (3) areas that she mentioned.
Commissioner Cooper stated that the budget committee’s purpose is to review and make recommendations to the Town of Littleton select board on matters directly concerning the towns proposed budgets and warrant articles and the LWL does not fall under the budgetary authority of the selectmen or town manager. Considering that there is an on-going matter between LWL and the town/DRA he feels that it would not be appropriate for LWL to make a presentation to the budget committee until all matters are resolved.
Mrs. Cummings stated that she has no agenda though she is somewhat aware of the Towns/DRA/ budgetary matter concerning LWL and that is not why she is here. Her sole concern is to establish a line of communication between all parties that may directly or indirectly affect the town’s taxpayers, as it comes out of the same pocket.
Commissioner Ross stated communication has always been a challenge for all town entities often in the same building. Does the budget committee plan to discuss all public/ private entities that may or may not affect the town tax rate of just LWL? LWL BOC meetings are open to the public and all concerned residents and budget committee members a welcome to attend.
Mrs. Cummings thanked the BOC for their time and insight and excused herself from the BOC meeting at about 1:30 p.m.
SUPERINTENDENT/ GENERAL MANAGERS REPORT:
1. Mr. Chris Dihan, a representative from Charge Point recently called and spoke with Mr. Considine with regard to a proposed DC electric car charging station at the Littleton Food Cooperative (LFC). Mr. Dihan stated that the NHPUC will be soliciting RFP in mid-December 2019 for the installation of quick charge electric charging stations along the I-93 corridor and that the LFC has expressed an interest. There may be funds available to install stations and equipment on the customer’s side though it is doubtful that any funds will be made available for utility installation/construction costs.
Charge Point is looking for an economic cost saving approach to minimize installation costs for both the utility and customer. He is aware of the material and physical challenges of installing this type of charging station where a 480 vac service is needed and that the available service voltage at the LFC is 208 vac.
Mr. Considine stated that he explained to Mr. Dihan that a potential may exist for them to research the use of a dry type step-up service transformer (208v to 480v). This would take advantage of the unused portion of the capacity in the existing pad-mounted transformer. This may provide LFC and Charge Point a more cost effective and economical project alternative and solution as the work may then be able to be paid for under the NHPUC grant.
2. LWL was officially notified that it was not granted funding through the NH Drinking Water Trust Fund for 2020. LWL submitted an application to relocate the 12-inch water main in Bethlehem Hollow. The project was recommended by the NHDES to improve access and reliability on the transmission main. This section, prone to active ground movement which has caused many leaks and the repair effort can be onerous. The highest working pressure on the transmission system is also developed in this section of pipe. The BOC reviewed the official committee comments with regard to the project not being recommended “LWL has no contamination/ violations, low income area, but has a low water rate….”
3. Commissioner Cooper inquired as to the next step with regard to evaluating the proposed 115 KV interconnection with Eversource.
Mr. Considine stated that he need to pull together a list of action items with the assistance from Daymark Energy and reach out to Eversource and intends to accomplish this early in 2020.
4. Commissioner Cooper asked if the town office has replied with regard to the LWL BOC request for additional accounting information for the installation of the ornamental lighting along Saranac and Ammonoosuc Street.
Mr. Considine stated that no response has been received though it would be nice to clean this up before the end of 2019. The BOC was in agreement that LWL should resend the request.
GENERAL/ OTHER BUSINESS:
1. The BOC reviewed the proposed 2020 operating and maintenance budgets for the water and electric divisions.
Mr. Considine and Mrs. Wilkins explained that sales were held even with the actual 2019 revenue level (flat) for both water and electric revenue projections. It appears that water sales have been flat for the past several years while the electricity sales are continuing it downward trend.
The most noteworthy increases in operating expenses are expected in the following operational areas: Health/Dental insurance premiums, wholesale power supply installed capacity demand, and tree trimming expenses are expected to increase by about 8%, 12.8% and 17% respectively. As a direct result of LWL hedging efforts, electricity costs (wholesale power supply-energy) will remain the same as 2019 providing no extreme events happen over the next operating year. This line item represents more than eighty (80) percent of LWL operating expenses.
Following some additional discussion Commissioner Sweet made a motion to except the proposed 2020 operating budget for both the water and electric division dated December 2, 2019, seconded by Commissioner Ross.
The vote was in favor of the motion 3-0-0.
2. Mr. Considine provided the BOC with the preliminary 2020 Capital Improvement and Equipment plan for their review and comment. The plan will be discussed further at the next BOC meeting, no action was taken.
There being no further business to come before the board Commissioner Sweet made a motion to adjourn the meeting, seconded by Commissioner Ross.
The vote was in favor of the motion 3-0-0.
Meeting adjourned at 2:55 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.