Friday, January 30-Berlin Electric Relief Eyed

BERLIN – Electric customers in Berlin could see lower electric bills in the future if the Berlin Town Council approves a new way to manage power generation and a power purchase agreement.

The Berlin Mayor and Council will hear recommendations from the Berlin Utility Commission (BUC) on a demand response management approach for the power plant and an electrical power purchase agreement, most likely at the Feb. 9 meeting.

The town has been without a fixed power charge agreement for the last few years and has also struggled with using the power plant to benefit customers.       

The BUC will almost certainly recommend that the town engage a demand response company to manage how the generators are used at the Berlin power plant for maximum efficiency, which should result in significant savings to electric customers.

“The projected savings were very nice,” said BUC Chair Erik Quisgard. “It seems pretty clear based on this assessment that this is a pretty good thing for us to get involved with.”

The additional cost to hire a demand response firm would be offset by the savings created by more efficient use of the power plant, according to Quisgard.

Electric consultants Booth and Associates has given the thumbs up to using a demand response model.

Keeping the power plant makes sense under the new approach, Quisgard said.

Townsfolk have been clamoring for a power purchase agreement over the last few years, a move many feel is the first step towards more affordable power. Rates would become consistent under a power purchase agreement.

“Everyone involved is so keenly aware this is a difficult time,” Quisgard said. “We’ve got to provide some stabilization, Power costs are a major thing.”

The BUC chair said he also expected consumers would save money under a power purchase agreement, which would lock in rates for a designated time period.

Other recent attempts to secure a power purchase agreement, instead of the month-to-month power buying deal the town currently enjoys, resulted in offered prices higher than what the town was already paying. That is not the case now with current offers, Quisgard said.

There are multiple ways to secure a power purchase agreement, including using a reverse auction process, but that is for the council to decide, Quisgard said.

 “We’re looking forward to that recommendation, That’s the first big step in stabilizing rates,” Berlin Mayor Gee Williams said.