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Minutes of Utilities Task Force, 10/08/2015

AGENDA: Utilities Task Force

RECEIVED 10/18/2015 10:19am
Michele R. Grande – Redding Town Clerk


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

Leon called the meeting to order at 2:00pm

Motion: To approve the minutes of the September 3rd 2015 meeting minutes. Polio,Cullman. Approved 4-0

Wes reported on his conversation with Terry Eller of UIL regarding the capacity available in the gas service that runs from Weston to Meadow Ridge. Ms. Eller was quite helpful and indicated that sufficient capacity existed to serve the existing Georgetown community and the potential development of the wire mill site. The cost of the extension of the service would require a sufficient number of customers to pay for the capital investment. While Redding is not in the Southern Ct Gas Company service area Ms. Eller had explained that SCG and Eversource can agree to allow nearby gas pipelines to be accessed.

Leon discussed the usefulness of a survey of the existing Georgetown community to determine the extent of their interest in gas conversion. The survey results would then help to inform the gas companies regarding the revenue they could expect from a pipeline extension.

Susan Clark provided the Task Force with a follow-up from her July comments regarding high speed fiber optic service for Connecticut Municipalities. A study conducted by a professor at the University of Connecticut had modeled the potential benefits and costs of such service and ranked the municipalities by the economic value of fiber optic service. Redding received a “maybe” rating while Easton received a “priority” grade. The lack of commercial activity appeared to be the reason for the rating differences. Susan will explore with Bill Labick the progress of towns adjacent to Redding. Frontier, the phone service provider, has recently indicated their interest in providing high speed service. Susan proposed that the best course of action would be to obtain the University of CT study, circulate a survey to determine the current internet speed for town users, and schedule meeting in the near future with Macquarie Capital and Frontier to determine their plans for expansion.

Henry reported on his visit with Leon to meet Charles Fisher and Jacob Muller of the Town of Ridgefield regarding the expansion of gas service in that town. Ridgefield did a calculation around the 2011 time frame, when oil was more expensive than it is today and saw they would realize a savings of 37% moving from heating oil to natural gas. Where the option existed, they would incorporate dual fuel burners for their boilers that burn oil or gas. Ridgefield already had a natural gas line running through the center of town. A line extension of 2500 ft. from the central town line to two of the town schools and Community Center was added at a cost of $231k to the town. The town also spent $110k and $6k respectively to retro-fit the schools and the Community Center. The town also ran a 1000 ft. extension line from the center of town to their highway facility at a cost of $52k and a retrofit cost of $74k. Ridgefield had planned on bringing natural gas to the high school however, the estimate of running a line from Route 7 to the school of two to three million dollars was cost prohibitive. Because Ridgefield far exceeded the minimum requirements for gas use, Eversource paid for all of the connections to town buildings off of the existing center of town line. The retrofitting of the boiler systems was paid for by the town. Ridgefield as stated by the town engineer had an overall good working relationship with Eversource. Their main contact at Eversource was the head sales person Don Vernal. The question was raised regarding the use of Fuel Cells to generate electricity from natural gas and the answer was they had given it some thought and concluded the use of Fuel Cells was cost prohibitive. Their costs for lighting ranged between 40 to 60%. Even at that, the cost for the use of Fuel Cells was too high. Instead to save money they retrofitted their buildings with up to date LED lighting. When the question of “Fiber Optics” came up, they said they were not involved and we should contact Ridgefield’s Finance Director, Kevin Redmond for direction.

Public Comment

Jim Miller representing the Redding Water Pollution Control Commission offered to provide a list of customers to facilitate a survey to determine interest in gas service.

Motion was made to adjourn at 3.02pm. Polio, Cullman. Approved 5-0

Submitted by Wes Higgins