TOWN HALL LIVE: Notes from the 12/13 Board of Selectmen’s meeting

A moment of silence was held for retired Abington Police Officer George Cook, who passed away on Nov. 30. He served in the Korean War for 14 months as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps, and spent more than 30 years as a police officer, first in Lakeland, Florida, and then in Abington. He retired in 1995.

The board is approving a number of business licenses. A list of the businesses included in the motion wasn’t immediately available.

The board approved allowing Webster Timber Lanes to use its liquor license as collateral for a loan.

Selectmen approved a new set of employee policies. The policies represent the town’s first uniform set of rules,. guidelines, and expectations in years. Jaime Kenny, the town’s labor attorney with Clifford and Kenny, said the policies do not override any existing union contracts; and that the town will have to go through impact bargaining with each of its unions.

It’s still 2022, but the town is already looking forwards toward the 2023 Annual Town Meeting. The Board voted to open the meeting agenda – known as the warrant. Residents can now start submitting ideas for consideration. Town Meeting is scheduled for April 3.

Work is nearly wrapped up on the $900,000 library roof replacement project. Town Manager Scott Lambiase said although the project started later than they expected the contractor did a good job. There are a few punch list items to coplete, and the library lawn will be repaired in the spring, he said. Meanwhile work has started on a major refubishment of the Strawberry Valley Golf Course clubhouse. The building, which dates back to when the property was Trufant’s Farm, is slated to receive a new roof, siding, insulation, doors, and windows. The work, which will wrap up in March, will cost $xx,000 and will be paid for through course greens fees.

Mark Cappadona with Colonial Power Group, was in attendance to explain the Community Choice Power Supply Program, which had generated some questions from residents. In the old days the power company – say Boston Edison – owned the power plants, transmission lines, and residential/commercial service lines. About 25 years ago those pieces were split up and are now typically managed by different entities. So even though Abington residents receive bills from National Grid, National Grid is buying power from other power generation companies, such as Exelon. A 1997 state deregulation law allowed communities to partner with intermediaries to negotiate power supply rates that might be lower than the rates contracted through National Grid. Abington Town Meeting voted in 2016 to join that program, and, following a formal bid process, signed up with Colonial Power Group. Colonial negotiated lower rates on Abington’s behalf in 2017 and 2018, but the program ended due to a supply issue, Cappadona told selectmen. This marks the first year since 2018 that Colonial is buying power on behalf of Abington residents and business owners.
Cappadona said National Grid is currently buying power at nearly 0.34 cents per kilowatt hour; traditionally, power is about 0.11 cents per kilowatt hour. He said through the aggregation program, Abington residents would receive power at about 0.28 cents per kilowatt hour – a rate that’s still significantly higher than usual but about 16 percent cheaper than the current National Grid rate. Cappadona told selectmen that the 0.28 cents per kilowatt hour rate is locked in for the next four months. In May, the rate will drop to about 0.13 cents and stay locked there for six months.

The only risk, at least according to Cappadona, is that National Grid could secure a lower supply rate starting in May. However, the aggregation program allows residents to opt out at any time. (The state law creating the municipal aggregation program made it an “opt out” program instead of an “opt in.”) Residents can opt out by sending back the postcard attached to the letter Colonial sent out recently. Those with solar panels who receive payments for excess power generated will continue to receive the National Grid rate, according to Cappadona.

Plymouth, Rockland, Pembroke, Cohasset, Sharon, Marshfield, and Halifax are some of the local towns that are part of the Community Choice program.

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