The contract for the temporary generators installed late last year to ensure Hull residents and businesses would not go without power this winter in the event of a widespread National Grid outage will expire March 31 as planned
The Hull Municipal Light Board reached that decision at its March 18 meeting despite requests from residents to make the generators available for a longer period should there be a need for them.
“The Light Board voted not to leave the generators up,” the board’s chairman, Patrick Cannon, told The Hull Times. “They were in place during the worst of the winter, which was the initial intent, and it would be too costly to do so.”
While there was no need to activate the generators except during a test run at the beginning of the season, knowing that they could kick in if needed during cold winter weather appeared to provide a measure of comfort to Hull residents and business owners who have experienced frequent National Grid outages in past years.
The Hull Municipal Light Plant paid $850,000 from its emergency reserve fund to lease and operate the five diesel-fuel-powered temporary generators this winter.
How to pay for leasing generators again is an ongoing conversation among HMLP members.
National Grid-related power losses are often of long duration and are more difficult to resolve than outages for which the light plant is responsible because many of the feeder lines are located in Hingham in a wooded area that can be difficult to access, especially at nighttime, according to town officials.
At the light board’s April 15 meeting, representatives from the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company (MMWEC), which represents and advises many of the state’s 43 municipal light departments, including Hull’s, “will present suggested scenarios on how to pay the cost of potentially leasing generators again in the future,” Cannon said.
The nonprofit MMWEC, through a public energy partnership established in 1969, provides the services, expertise, and strategic vision to help municipal utilities optimize their energy resources and find value in the shifting structure of New England’s wholesale power markets.
Should the town decide to rent temporary generators again, a suitable location would need to be found. The current location works well, according to Cannon, “but it’s on state land and we only have temporary permission to use the property.”
In other business at the meeting, the MMWEC reported that HMLP purchases “a lot of renewable, non-carbon-emitting power, such as natural gas,” Cannon said. “We’re way ahead of many communities.”
That accomplishment is considered to be in line with the Hull Clean Energy Climate Action Committee’s town meeting-approved objective of developing and making available publicly an operational plan on how to achieve the goal of 100 percent clean and renewable energy by 2030 for all public, residential, and commercial energy users in town, including heating and transportation.