SWANTON VILLAGE MUNICIPAL COMPLEX
120 FIRST STREET
SWANTON, VT 05488
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Monday, August 10, 2020
MINUTES NOT YET APPROVED BY
THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES
PRESENT: Neal Speer, Village President; Chris Leach, Trustee; Adam Paxman, Trustee; Eugene LaBombard, Trustee; Reginald Beliveau Jr., Village Manager; Dianne Day, Village Clerk; Elisabeth Nance, Economic Development Coordinator; Leonard “Joey” Stell, Chief of Police; Ken Nolan, VPPSA; and Channel 16.
Unless otherwise noted, all motions carried unanimously.
- Call to Order:
Neal Speer, Village President, called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
- Pledge of Allegiance:
Everyone stood for the Pledge of Allegiance.
- Agenda Review:
Reg Beliveau, Village Manager, stated he needed to add personnel under executive session.
- Public Comment:
- Approve and Accept Minutes from Monday, July 27, 2020:
Adam Paxman made the motion to approve and accept the Minutes from Monday, July 27, 2020 as presented. Chris Leach seconded. Discussion: None. Motion carried.
- Approve and Accept Village Warrants through Friday, August 7, 2020:
Chris Leach made the motion to approve Village Warrants through Friday, August 7, 2020 as presented. Eugene LaBombard seconded. Discussion: Chris Leach asked about the payment made to Primmer & Piper for $1144.00. Reg Beliveau stated they consulted with them regarding the art boards and said that Lynn had also called them for something. Motion carried.
- Economic Development Coordinator Update:
Elisabeth Nance, Economic Development Coordinator, informed the Board that there will be a Downtown Scoping Study meeting on September 17th to discuss local concerns. She said they haven’t named a place or time yet but said this will be the first meeting to discuss the traffic pattern from First Street and Grand Avenue to the bridge. Chris Leach stated he is hoping for a solution. Elisabeth also stated the Town Selectboard chose a consultant for the sidewalk to MVUHS as well as Lake Street and Maquam Shore Road.
- Swanton Village Police Department Update with Chief Stell:
Chief Stell said the Village Police Department responded to 182 calls for service during the month of July. He said they also issued 14 warnings for traffic offenses and issued 8 traffic citations totaling $1441. He said the typical problem areas were Canada St., First St., Spring St. and Grand Avenue as well as North River St. He said they have dealt with a few kids on minor issues but had nothing real serious to deal with. Adam Paxman asked if the contract with the Town of Swanton was up this year. Chief Stell said they just renewed their contract in March of 2020. Chris Leach asked if the police department handled dog issues because they had one on Gallup Court earlier that day. He said not typically, unless it was a very aggressive dog. He said if the dog was back under control of its owner they couldn’t do anything. Chris was informed that the Town of Swanton appointed a new animal control officer today.
- Discuss and Sign VPPSA’s VT Support Agreement Extension (Phase 1 Transmission):
Ken Nolan informed the Board that VPPSA held a retreat for their board members and staff and set four sets of priorities. He said the first is financial stability for both VPPSA and their members and are trying to take steps to increase loads for all electric utilities. He said they are also taking steps on economic development and are in the process of putting a key accounts person together who would work with the electric department and be more active in helping people to upgrade their facilities and be as efficient as they can be. He said they are also focused on policy leadership which deals with the legislature, congressional delegation and regulators trying to promote local community views. He said they are focused internally on organization and will continue training. He said some are getting closer to retirement age and they are beginning to do the transition planning. He said new this year the Board asked them to focus on technology. He said they are looking at how they are working from home during COVID-19 situations and also looking at technology to bring to their members. He said broadband has been a huge topic. He said they have tried for a few years to keep electric utilities outside of that but they are getting more and more pressure. He said they’ve been acting as the advocate for the municipal utility in those conversations. He said they are working with Velco and other private companies to see how to bring federal money into Vermont and get broadband deployed. He said this is taking a lot of effort. He said the last piece is advanced metering and are trying to do a program for all VPPSA member municipalities to do metering together. He said instead of everyone buying their own system they would have one system that everybody could take advantage of. He said they’ve spent about 18 months trying to figure out the qualifications for members and are in the RFP process to get pricing attached to it. He said they are expecting to make a recommendation at the September board meeting on which vendor to choose and start contract negotiations. He said they would like to design the systems over the winter and start deploying to members who are ready to go in mid to late spring. He said these projects can take two to three years from start to finish. Chris Leach asked the difference between a smart meter and advance meter. Ken said this was kind of an interchangeable term but the big difference between a typical smart meter used today and the advanced meters is you have to read smart meters by hand. He said it puts out a signal but you have to walk by it or drive by it to get the signal. He said advance meter infrastructure (AMI) uses radio signals and collective points so you don’t have to go to the meter, it sends the data back to a central location. He said they are similar. Ken said he has yet to see any utility reduce staff by installing these meters. He said you keep the same staff but they are doing a slightly different job. He said utilities save operational money on reconnects, disconnects, move in and move outs. He said companies can see significant savings there from not having to run vehicles around town. He said you are getting hourly data from every customer and you will know usage hour by hour and be able to redesign your rates so customers have incentives to use less power when it costs more. He said this takes some time to get to. Chris asked if the State would allow utilities to have flexible rates. Ken said they are flipping 180 degrees right now. Adam Paxman asked if these meters are as accurate as our current system and Ken said yes they are. He said you get outage reports right off, tampering messages and a whole bunch of notices if something is wrong with a meter. Reg Beliveau said there is pressure from the PUC to move to these meters and with Swanton being the third largest publicly owned utility there is strength in numbers and they can get better pricing. He said they are going to do the water meters as well. Ken said there is a growing amount of pressure from the State to install AMI meters. He said if you choose to not install AMI meters you will have to justify why you’re not.
Ken said back in the 1980’s most of the VT utilities signed a contract with Hydro Quebec to bring power into Canada. He said at the time that contract was signed in 1984 ISO New England didn’t exist and anytime you bought power from outside your utility you had to show a physical path between the person selling the power and yourself. He said they also had to sign contracts for transmission and that’s how the Highgate converter got built. He said there has been contracts in place for 30 years and Swanton has been paying support payments every month for this, however in 2012 when Hydro Quebec contracts ended it was replaced by a new one. Under the new ISO New England structure in place you no longer need to show a path for transmission because it’s done financially. He said there is no physical need to own this line but there is a right under the contract to extend it for an additional 20 years and ends in November. Velco has been negotiating on behalf of all of Vermont to renew that contract. He said they finally have a contract that everyone agrees to according to their attorneys. He said the benefits of extending the contract are the lines are 30 years old and essentially depreciated. He said Swanton’s support payments are $100 per month and if they retain the rights to the line ISO New England views that as a very beneficial access to Quebec. He said every month the Village receives a credit each month on their bill. He said those credits add up to several thousand dollars each year. He said the Village pays approximately $1000 a year but is getting back $4000 or $5000 a year in credits. He said from a financial standpoint this is almost a no brainer to continue on and it is their recommendation that the Village do so. Chris Leach said this sounds like a good deal and asked about liability of the poles and lines. Ken said part of the negotiation was full due diligence on the condition of the poles and there is a capital plan in place for upgrades. He said there is a risk but they feel it is very minimal and said something catastrophic would have to happen.
Chris Leach made the motion to accept the Vermont Phase 1 Participation Agreement for the Amended and Restated Vermont Participation Agreement for Quebec Interconnection and named Village Manager Reginald Beliveau Jr. as the authorized signer of the contract. Adam Paxman seconded. Motion carried.
- Any Other Necessary Business:
Reg Beliveau, Village Manager, updated the Board on the FERC relicensing at the Hydro Plant.
Any Other Business: Neal Speer, Village President, stated the sidewalks and landscaping on York Street looks very nice. Reg said they will be paving York Street, Church Street and replacing a water line on Depot Street as well as a fire hydrant in the near future.
- Executive Session to Discuss Customer Account, Real Estate and Personnel:
Adam Paxman made the motion to enter Executive Session to discuss customer account, real estate and personnel at 7:47 p.m. Eugene LaBombard seconded. Motion carried.
Eugene LaBombard made the motion to exit Executive Session at 8:15 p.m. Chris Leach seconded. Motion carried.
ACTION TAKEN: None.
Adam Paxman made the motion to adjourn the Regular Board of the Trustees meeting at 8:15 p.m. Chris Leach seconded. There being no further business at hand, Neal Speer, Village President, adjourned the meeting at 8:15 p.m. Motion carried.
Neal Speer, Village President Date
Dianne Day, Village Clerk Date