Wallingford Electric Division hopes deal can be reached to avoid gap in transmitting data

WALLINGFORD — Despite disagreements between the town and the Connecticut Municipal Energy and Electric Cooperative, the Electric Division will take the steps necessary to make sure vital data will continue to transmit to regulatory authorities, Public Utilities Director George Adair said Tuesday. He promised action would be taken today.

“It’s extremely important we put this to bed,” Adair said during Tuesday’s Public Utilities Commission meeting. Adair stressed that he is taking a positive approach to the situation and hopes to come to amicable terms with the cooperative.

A dispute between the division and the cooperative is ongoing because the cooperative owns equipment in the town that transmits data to ISO-New England and the Connecticut Valley Electric Exchange (CONVEX). In return for the transmittal, the Electric Division receives $800,000 annually. But as of Jan. 1, the town will no longer be under contract with the cooperative. In May, the town contracted with Energy New England for power procurement. The cooperative had been under contract with the town since 1994.

CMEEC Chief Operating Officer Drew Rankin has said he will pull the equipment out of town once the contract expires. Adair said he is looking to form an agreement with CMEEC to continue the service and share costs. This would be less costly than purchasing new machinery, since the technology currently used to transmit data will be phased out next year, he said. Rankin has said that he too would like to continue working with the town, and offered the town a draft contract for ongoing transmittal service. But Adair and Rankin have not been able to come to terms on a deal.

Earlier in the day, Adair said, he spoke to an attorney at ISO-New England. Officials at ISO-New England and CONVEX are concerned about any interruption in transmission data, he said.

Because of this concern, “we will take other steps at the regulatory or federal level to make sure this process moves ahead,” Adair said.

For now, the division has taken steps to purchase its own equipment, even though it will be phased out in about a year. Estimates have been provided for related services at between $15,000 and $20,000, Adair said. Even if the division were to go the route of installing its own equipment, “physically it’s not possible to do so by the end of the year,” Adair said. So if an agreement can’t be made in the coming days to continue the service with the cooperative after Dec. 31, he said, there will be a gap in transmission.

“This is very serious,” Public Utilities Commission Chairman Bob Beaumont said.

Terms for a continued contract with the cooperative “should have been decided by October,” Beaumont said. Instead, there has been bickering.

The process has already cost the division legal expenses, Adair said. There’s no reason the town should have to go through so much “cost and angst,” he said, when the complexity of the transmission contract “amounts to a phone bill.”

Adair said he has been “utterly astounded” by the reaction from the cooperative regarding the dispute.

“Our concern is the process we’ve been on the receiving end of has no end in sight,” he said.

aragali@record-journal.com (203) 317-2224 Twitter: @Andyragz



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