Electric Changes Save Berlin $600K

BERLIN – Changes in how Berlin’s power plant is run have saved the town probably $600,000, according to electric consultants Booth and Associates.

Booth Vice President Dwight Davis said, during a report on the state of the town’s electric utility this week, that they would soon get confirmation that the power plant hit all peak hours last summer that it could. 

“We’ve learned that those peak hours come between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday,” said Davis.

That savings will not show up until June, when the town will see that money returned as a credit on its electric bill, as a reduction from 10 megawatts to three.

“This doesn’t happen by chance,” said Berlin Mayor Gee Williams.

Costs of running the power plant have also been reduced under the switch in focus to running the power plant only in the summer, allowing one power plant staff member to work the energy audit program in the winter months.

“It allows us to substantially reduce the fuel costs,” said Davis.

Fuel expenditures could be reduced to about $100,000 over the four summer months, June through September, he said, down from $350,000 year round.

“That’s working out well and your staff have really done a good job adapting to this strategy,” said Davis.

Efforts have also been made to evaluate the electric systems and do important maintenance, according to Davis.

“I believe that’s a crucial priority for us,” said Davis.

One new project has been added, an environmental project to create a spill prevention plan, which will prevent fuel spills from seeping into the groundwater.

“That’s in the budget already,” Davis said.

Booth’s consultants are also working on reducing power losses to save the town money.

Right now, the town is losing around 10 percent of its power, but that could be reduced by another 2 percent, according to Davis, saving another $80,000 a year.

The consultants are also helping the town get ready for the annual meeting with the Maryland Public Service Commission.

“This year we’re going in on much better footing,” Davis said.

Some had questions about the new rates under the Florida Power and Light contract signed last spring.

“I watched the rate just dive in May but it’s slowly been creeping up,” said town council member Troy Purnell.

The contract shows a series of step increases in the power rate, Davis said, an issue that they struggled with when the contract was being considered.