The Peabody Municipal Light Commission approved a $73.7 million budget for 2024 on January 26, by unanimous vote, including that of outgoing commissioner Charles Bonfanti. The budget amount is “slightly more than what we’re actually collecting in revenue,” explained Manager Joe Anastasi.
It has taken considerable effort to locate information about the PMLP budget and its accompanying Action Plan. And, a lot more effort to digest it. The budget has never been published publicly and when requested, we received incomplete documents – making it even more difficult to understand. BCNS submitted 16 questions on the draft printed budget and all our questions were answered. After the Commission voted, we received, upon request, an Action Plan budget that is largely un-redacted. The scope of projects underway and planned will make for a busy and exciting year ahead for Peabody’s public power.
Here is what we learned:
“While PMLP continues to review the ongoing use of fossil fuel technology and its application in our service territory, we are committing to no additional carbon-emitting power sources for 2023. Further, PMLP has nine projects that pertain to or support via incentives, etc. the promotion of green, renewable, or sustainable energy sources or rebates. The cost to provide these services overall is an aggregate of approximately $465,500.”
The FY24 budget is the first prepared under Joe Anastasi’s management and reflects a more streamlined approach. It is part of ongoing company reorganization efforts, including the creation of the Power Resource Management Division.
Regarding Project 2015A, the budget includes “$875,000 for debt service, operations, and maintenance” of the plant under construction “as per our pro-rate member share in the project.”
The PMLP Low Income Weather Program with North Shore Community Action Program (NSCAP) now incorporates two categories that fund low-income households of Peabody and South Lynnfield and was increased to $60,000.
Renovations to parts of the PMLP building and to the parking lot at 201R Warren St. Ext. are included in the budget. Work is slated to start in April.
Another recent request for proposals is to replace the roof at the PMLP diesel plant building in preparation of converting the space into a Behind-the-Meter battery storage project. http://pmlp.com/docs/bids/bids-RFP-Diesel-Building.pdf New windows and interior work will follow.
Other Action Plans within the budget are:
– Investigate creating new rates for PMLP customers, such as: LED Flood light rate, Green rate, Elderly/Hardship rate
-Install MMWEC’s new Pratt Whitney 4000 turbine generator, 2015A project at the Waters River Station. Construction is underway. The project is expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2023.
– Determine the feasibility of adding specific generating resources, such as, but no limited to: Behind the Meter Battery, Solar Panels on PMLP’s lawn, Off- and-On Shore Wind projects to our power supply mix to ensure compliance with proposed environmental regulations dealing with Green House Gas Initiative and the Commonwealth’s 2050 Decarbonization roadmap, as well as other “Going Green” initiatives.
– Completion by Dec. 2023 of a utility scale battery system to help flatten the curve of peak usage times and reduce power supply costs.
– Continue to bring all critical 40-year-old Waters River station components up to latest industry design standards, as well as make necessary modifications to connect the new GT-3 turbine to Waters River 115kV infrastructure.
– Procure new equipment for replacement of the existing 115KV Circuit Switchers at Waters River with latest technology 115KV gas insulated circuit breakers. In addition, continue working with MMWEC to assist with integration of the subsystem ties and new protective relaying associated with Special Project 2015A (GT-3). Also part of this procurement is for upcoming 115kV equipment upgrades at Bartholomew St. Substation.
– Assist in the development of six Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in Peabody. These are part of a grant received from the DEP: two stations at Mill St., two at Railroad Ave, and two at the municipal lot across from Petrillos. The project should be completed mid-to-late 2023.
– Develop an Information Systems Disaster Recovery Plan. A further Facilities Disaster Recovery Plan will be developed in 2023.
– Purchase a new Forklift for Waters River Substation. The current forklift is an old stockroom forklift, a 1989 Clark with 2200+ hours on it. Currently, there is a significant lead time for this vehicle and it will not arrive until 2024.
– Install a new fiber optic line from Northshore Road to Bartholomew Street Substation via the Summit Street Switching Station and install necessary communication equipment, building on other PMLP owned fiber optic lines.
– Upgrade the surveillance of PMLP’s assets: new security cameras and associated equipment installed – investigating Waters River and Ipswich River first.
– Properly apportion loads in a balanced fashion as a result of the renovated Johnson Street Switching Station, the new Ipswich River Substation and the Waters River Substation. The bulk of this work will be to re-direct a Johnson Street circuit that had been feeding West Peabody load to the easterly direction to feed load in the center of Peabody. This will include installing several new sections of overhead primary cable from outside Johnson Street to Route 1. Work order is written, work scheduled for Spring 2023.
– Convert contract lighting to new LED technology. Engineering will evaluate LED lighting options and provide project management, along with ensuring accuracy of contract light accounts as customer conversions are made. The goal for 2023 is to convert 25% of the contract lights to LED and continue in future years. Develop a new rate for LED contract lights. If rates are adjusted, the new rates will require PMLC approval and submission to the Department of Public Utilities (DPU).
– Re-develop PMLP’s corporate website www.pmlp.com onto a modern Content Management System.
– Conduct a penetration test against network systems by simulating a cyberattack to identify strengths and weaknesses in PMLP’s security strategy. Modernizing PMLP’s digital footprint.
– Evaluate the effectiveness of the 2022 Cost of Service Study and rate increase. Evaluate improvements to achieve goals of equity to customers, lower power supply costs, educated customer usage patterns, and revenues to sustain operation and ensure capital funding for our future projects and longevity.
– Work with MMWEC to ensure that we’re meeting power supply objectives including in the MA Decarbonization Roadmap. Explore cost-effective strategies to increase our non-carbon emitting portfolio ahead of those deadlines whenever possible.
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