BELD making pitch for new $104 million power plant in Braintree
The process that could end with a new power plant for Braintree has taken a key initial step forward.
According to William Bottiggi, general manager of the Braintree Electric Light Department (BELD), he informed the municipal light board May 18 that the process of participating in the next forward capacity auction with ISO-New England, scheduled for February, has started.
Bottiggi said the ball began rolling with a “show of interest” to ISO-NE, an independent, non-profit regional transmission organization that serves Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, in addition to Massachusetts.
Bottiggi also said he notified the board that he has sent a letter to Mayor Joseph Sullivan asking him to forward a motion to the town council which, if approved, would authorize BELD to borrow up to $104 million to repower a Potter II plant.
This authorization would be “dependent on BELD clearing the forward capacity auction” next winter, Bottiggi explained.
BELD officials previously made it clear how building a new power plant would only make sense if the clearing price for capacity was high enough to cover the fixed costs of maintaining the unit during the upcoming auction.
“We had a discussion about the next steps, which involve making a presentation to the town council and its committee on ways and means,” said Bottiggi, who expects this to occur after the council has completed action on Sullivan’s proposed town budget for fiscal year 2017, which begins July 1.
Bottiggi earlier spoke about the presentation he made to the light board March 1 in which he explained BELD’s options, along with its risks and financial impact.
“The two most viable options are to continue to operate and maintain Potter II (built in 1977) or build a new power plant,” he said then. “It does not make financial sense to retire Potter II and not replace it or convert Potter II into a simple cycle power plant. We have gotten to this conclusion over the last few months of working with our engineering consultant and many subcontractors.”
Board members unanimously support the new power plant option.
Bottiggi has informed town councilors that performing enhanced maintenance on Potter II as it currently is configured would only extend its life by up to 10 years.