Council Inks Wholesale Power Accord

BERLIN – Some small measure of order was restored to Berlin’s electricity issues this week when the Town Council on Wednesday night agreed to enter into a one-year wholesale power agreement with Conectiv.

Following a recommendation from the Berlin Utility Commission, which met in a work session prior to the regularly scheduled council meeting on Wednesday, the town’s elected officials voted unanimously to accept the bid from Conectiv to continue to supply wholesale electric power to Berlin. The agreement is similar to the current 18-month pact between Berlin and Conectiv and will help guarantee the town’s utility customers will get a competitive rate with their electric service. Essentially the agreement with Conectiv sets electricity costs for the town at the lowest available market price, plus 5 percent to Conectiv for servicing Berlin’s account.

The council directed the BUC to negotiate a long-term wholesale power agreement several months ago in the wake of a decision not to sell Berlin’s historic municipal power plant. Berlin residents approved the sale in a referendum vote, but the deal broke down when Old Dominion Electric Cooperative pulled out over environmental concerns at the old plant.

With the plug pulled on the sale of the municipal electric company, town officials decided to go back to the status quo, with Berlin purchasing bulk electric power from a regional supplier and using the power generated by the municipal plant in times of emergencies or outages, or when the strike price for wholesale power is reached.

The agreement with Conectiv approved on Wednesday is a necessary first step in going back to the old system. BUC Chairman Rick Baldwin told the council the Conectiv bid was the best option out of the four bids under consideration after each of the bidders was asked to resubmit their proposals.

“The BUC worked hard for several months on a wholesale power agreement,” he said. “We asked the four bidders to refresh their bids, and when the new bids came in, we were a little dismayed that the cost of wholesale power had gone up. With that being said, we feel the bid by Conectiv is in the best interest of the town.”

Baldwin said the BUC was recommending the 12-month agreement because of the uncertainties surrounding the market and the status of the town’s own electric generation. Conectiv offered a variety of options including a 12-, 24- or 36-month agreement.

“We chose the 12-month agreement because we’re unsure of our own generation and the current market is so unpredictable,” he said. “We can revisit this in six months and start working on the next agreement.”