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,
July 17, 2023 in the LWL conference room. Present were Commissioner Linda MacNeil, Commissioner Ralph Ross, Commissioner Peter Cooper, Director of Finance Lori Hogan and Superintendent Thomas Considine.
The minutes of the July 3, 2023, regularly scheduled Commissioners meeting were reviewed. Commissioner Cooper made a motion to accept the minutes as presented, seconded by Commissioner Ross.
The vote was in favor of the motion 3-0-0
CUSTOMER & PUBLIC CONCERNS:
Mr. Dan Crosby and Mr. David Van Houten, residents of Bethlehem (not LWL ratepayers), discussed a solar initiative that they are proponents of. They also stated that they are not here in any official government capacity but as concerned citizens and an advocate of renewable energy/solar. Mr. Crosby stated that in the past they have worked with a solar provider to promote net metering projects through the Towns of Bethlehem and Franconia, as several systems were installed at that time. They would like to begin a new project in the Town of Littleton to promote the benefits of net metering. They proposed to use the same vender to maximize cost savings for prospective homeowners. They are here for informational purposes to discuss LWL net metering policy and make LWL aware of their proposed activities as they plan to advertise in the local newspapers.
Mr. Considine explained how LWL net metering program works, and the buy-back incentive offered and how the invoicing was managed by LWL.
Mr. Van Houten questioned LWL net metering policy, and that the DC connected array capacity is restricted for each user group, he inquired as to the need.
Mr. Considine stated that LWL allowable net metering capacity set by the RSA and is small in comparison to Eversource. The capacity restriction existed so that one customer did not take LWL entire allowable allotment. Controlling the interconnected capacity is why that allows more customers to take advantage of the program.
Mr. Van Houten stated that he feels that these restrictions are a detriment to their proposed plan and the capacity restrictions may deter others from participating.
Mr. Considine stated that LWL has voluntarily made this service available to its customers since the beginning of the net metering program in NH. LWL no way is required or compelled to buy back any excess energy by law and provides this service as a courteous to its customers. LWL’s net metering program is “first come-first serve”, prospective net metering customers would need to work within the construct of the existing policies. If there are compelling business reasons the BOC may choose to increase the allowable interconnection capacity.
There was some additional back and forth discussion regarding LWL net metering policy. Mr. Crosby and Mr. Van Houten thanked the BOC for the opportunity to present their plans and they both exited the meeting.
DIRECTOR of FINANCE and HUMAN RESOURCES REPORT:
1. Mrs. Hogan reviewed the highlights of the financial statements for the month ended April 2023 with the Commissioners. Several variances as compared to the budget were discussed and explained by Mrs. Hogan. No exceptions were noted by the BOC.
Commissioners Ross questioned the current First Light Fiber invoice and the increase in monthly charges. Mr. Considine stated that LWL has five (5) analog copper pot lines with First Light Fiber and the service charge for each of the lines increased by $100 each. The copper lines are more reliable in a storm than digital and integrates with LWL’s trouble call after hours paging system.
Following some additional discussion, the decision was made to compare similar services provided by Consolidate Communications to determine potential savings.
SUPERINTENDENT/ GENERAL MANAGERS REPORT:
1. Both the water and electric system fared well throughout recent heavy wind and thunderstorms that moved throughout the region this past weekend. Torrential rains and heavy wind caused damage in the usual areas of the electric system. The infiltration gallery at Gale River needed to be cleaned several times due to this high flow, high siltation event. Fortunately, the timing of the trouble events was sporadic and spaced far enough apart that the on-call crew was able to be managed efficiently. No major damage was incurred and there were no sustained interruptions to service. Both the water and electric systems are operating normally.
2. LWL recently reviewed the proposed Town of Littleton construction project to upgrade/replace the sidewalks along Cottage Street from Main Street to the Bethlehem Road intersection. The project should not have a major impact on LWL infrastructure though several secondary power supply interconnections will need to be established for lighting/traffic warning needs at several crosswalks.
Superintendent Considine discussed the process LWL management is using to evaluate the need to fill a field position or lose the position through attrition and save money. Trying to balance the financial need and operational want regarding this vacant position is becoming challenging.
The On-Call rotation (balance the schedule) is a primary concern. LWL provides continuous trouble call coverage outside of normal business hours. All field staff for both the water and electric operating divisions are required to be on a rotating on-call status thirteen (13) weeks annually (typically one week each month) for which they are financially compensated. If the vacant position is not filled, then a burden will be placed on the other individuals, and this can be tiresome and problematic over time.
The daily workload and activities due to technological advancement have decreased some of the field staff’s daily tasks such as meter reading. Meter reading activities which were a two (2) person job at one time are down to maybe a part-time position and/will gradually decrease over the next year. There will be some residual tasks that need to be done but generally these tasks do not fill and eight (8) hour workday, especially when LWL had two (2) individuals in similar roles (meter reader and utility technician).
Initial discussions revolved around filling the vacant position with another utility technician due to assignment flexibility (floater) of the position. Upon further review the daily duties/assignments are somewhat vague as to what the expectation of the position would be as LWL already has a utility technician attempting to keep busy between required meter reading support and other general duties. It was agreed that staffing a second full-time utility technician with unassigned duties would be difficult to manage effectively and the workload is not there to support another general technician. It was discussed that LWL should concentrate on its core mission to provide water and electricity if this position is necessary, it was decided that if LWL was going to fill the vacancy the duties and responsibilities should be clearly defined.
Following some general discussions, it was agreed that adding another full-time position to the water division was a more suitable alternative than a general floater. The water person’s duties are more clearly defined, it is a core service provided by LWL and hiring an entry level water person would have the residual effect of saving some costs operationally.
There being no further business to come before the board Commissioner Cooper 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 2:42 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.