Berlin To Seek Power Purchase Accord

BERLIN – A Berlin Mayor and Council vote on Monday to pursue a traditional power purchase agreement as recommended by the Berlin Utilities Commission (BUC) concluded to applause from a standing-room only audience.

How much electric customers will save could not be disclosed, as the contract with Florida Power and Light (FPL) has not been finalized.

The packed town council meeting room suggested townsfolk were waiting to hear actual dollar figures on savings, but the lack of those figures did not prevent the audience from applauding the move.

BUC Chair Erik Quisgard made the formal recommendation to the council to enter into a power purchase agreement with FPL and to join a demand-response program with Enerwise, to improve usage of the power plant, in an attempt to save more money and reduce bills. He also advised the town to seek a 27-month power purchase contract.

“The concept is we get a fixed rate for a long period of time,” Quisgard said, eliminating the large PCA charges because the price for power would not be subject to the electricity market.

The town and FPL must finish the contract to both parties’ satisfaction, but it could go into effect in about 30 days, the BUC chair estimated.

Quisgard could not guarantee that negotiations would be complete in time to allow a rate reveal at the next town council meeting on Feb. 23.

Councilman Troy Purnell asked Quisgard or staff to nail down the rate from FPL. With contract negotiations incomplete, the actual number cannot be made public. “I just want to make sure it’s a substantial savings,” Purnell said.

“It improves on the average we paid over the last two years,” Quisgard said.

The BUC had more information on demand-response program savings, estimating that the town could save $200,000 next year by using the power plant generators more efficiently. Last year, without a demand-response program, the town saved $150,000.

Councilwoman Paula Lynch questioned the BUC decision against a reverse auction through World Energy. Quisgard explained World Energy could not guarantee that Berlin would receive acceptable rate bids that would generate savings for electric customers nor would the company guarantee a certain number of bidders. The auction approach would also likely take as long as the standard approach, Quisgard said.

“So what you’re recommending is the safe route?” Lynch asked.

“That’s a very good summary,” Quisgard said.