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Minutes of Utilities Task Force, 09/03/2015

AGENDA: Utilities Task Force

RECEIVED 09/08/2015 3:20pm

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Present: Susan Clark, Donald Cullman, Leon Karvelis, Henry Polio

Leon Karvelis called the meeting to order at the conference room in the Town Hall at 2:02 pm.

Leon Karvelis called for a motion to approve the minutes of the July 2nd 2015 meeting.

Motion: Susan Clark to approve the minutes of the July 2nd 2015 meeting of the Task Force

Second: Donald Cullman

Approved: All members

John Murren president of the Georgetown Village Restoration Corp made up of 65 commercial

and residential members attended the meeting.

John Murren spoke briefly explaining that his organization primary goal is the revitalization of Georgetown.

Leon Karvelis explained the mission of the task force to Mr. Murren. After explaining that we as a group are looking at the feasibility of bringing natural gas into Georgetown Mr. Murren voiced his concern relative to the cost to Georgetown for bringing sewers in and any new ideas like bringing natural gas in might be costly to Georgetown.   Leon redirected the conversation to the advantages of bringing natural gas into Georgetown. Also, Leon explained that we would like to work with him and his organization to determine how much support there would be from commercial businesses and residents for a natural gas tie in to their facilities. It did appear, that Mr. Murren would help us to complete our mission.

Don Cullman reported on his meeting with Mr. Brennan First Selectman for Wilton on August 5th at the town hall in Wilton. Leon Karvelis also attended the meeting with Don Cullman and Mr. Brennan. The report follows:

The purpose of the meeting with Mr. Brennan was to question him regarding Wilton’s experiences with Eversource and the bringing of natural gas to the town of Wilton. Mr. Brennan was extremely knowledgeable and provided valuable information on the subject.

Early contacts with Everosurce were not productive. The gas line was already up Route 7 as far as Wolf Pit Road. Wilton wanted gas service in their downtown area, the high school, a middle school and two grammar schools. Eversource wanted and upfront payment of $1.3 million and a 15 year payback. Wilton agreed to the cash payment, but eventually got Eversource to agree to a 25 year payback. Mr Brennan said that the 25 year term was absolutely essential to making any deal with Eversource work.

When all the engineering work was done and the town was 60 days from the start of the excavation, Eversource announced that the payment had increased to $1.8 million. A contingent of town officials, led by Brennan, went to Hartford to confront Eversource and told them the price increase was a deal breaker and were furious with Eversource for their business methods, which had resulted in the town spending needless money on engineering, etc. At this point, Eversource top brass got involved and the result was that the prepayment of $1.3 million was waived entirely and the deal was made.

New, high efficiency furnaces had to be installed in all locations. In most cases they installed dual fuel furnaces that can use both gas and oil. The payoff to the town was immediate and large. He felt the long range price trends for gas and oil would extend these savings into the future.

Mr. Brennan said that he felt strongly that an arm’s length business relationship with Eversource was not productive. Instead, Wilton succeeded in more personal relationships at the various personnel levels, so that both parties understood each other’s issues. This worked well for the town and their relationship with Eversource is now a good one.

Underground wiring: Brennan said that all new residential and commercial subdivision construction in Wilton has to have this. But Eversource doesn’t like it, claiming it’s to difficult to repair. Also, their studies show that it is too expensive to back fit this, even if the roadway is being repaired. This is why the Wilton business district still has over-head wiring.

Fuel Cells: Wilton has investigated this technology, questions it’s value for their town and have no plans to use it anytime in the near future Initial expense is high. Maintenance can also be high. He cautioned us to be very careful on this.

Fiber Optics: We questioned Mr. Brennan and he said Wilton favors bringing fiber optic cabling to Wilton. They have already outfitted some of their buildings and schools, anticipating this service.

Eversource names to know that proved to be important to Wilton, people that Brennan termed “good guys”…… Bruce Hampton and Cari Frattini.

Henry Polio informed Leon Karvelis that they both had a scheduled meeting with Charles Fisher, Ridgefield town engineer on Tuesday September 8th at 10:30am to discuss Ridgefield’s experience with Eversource relative to natural gas projects in Ridgefield.

Eversource Forms – The task force proceeded to discuss the Eversource forms presented to each member. After some discussion and a recommendation by Susan Clark, it was determined, we should move in the direction of generating an on line form for collecting pertinent data to determine if there is enough interest by Georgetown’s businesses and residents to tie into a natural gas pipeline. Susan will spear head the effort.

Susan Clark will give the task force an updated report regarding Redding’s quest for fiber optics at the October task force meeting.

Leon Karvelis called for a motion to adjourn the meeting at 3:02pm.

Motion: Henry Polio to adjourn

Second: Don Cullman

Approved: All members

Minutes Submitted by Henry Polio