Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Shocking Revelation

If the most honest guy on the Good Ship Amherst says there were discussions about free electricity from the new Umass Powerplant than it must be true. (Thank God our DPW Chief didn’t defend His Lordship’s goofy position on 9/11).

Of course, now I find it scary that Hilda Greenbaum would be in the loop. Mr. Weiss must have forgotten when he sent that reply all email that this was a BIG SECRET only known to choice insiders.

Now I understand why Umass would dangle that carrot before our novice negotiators. Give us the meat-and-potatoes in this 5-year ‘Strategic Agreement’ and next time maybe we will throw you a (baby) carrot.

But five years from now, with Umass an even larger juggernaut, the no-longer-new Powerplant will be producing less than 80% of the electrical needs of the campus; so why would they divert some juice to Amherst? As Guilford pointed out, they will have to keep their connection to WMECO and will pay dearly for that remaining 20% balance of power required.

And if the Town Manger was so easily beaten up by the school yard bully, having his lunch money stolen, why do we think he will do any better five years from now?

In a message dated 10/24/07 3:54:24 PM, writes:

That is a goal, to get free power from UMass. We have talked about it several times with Larry S. and it was discussed at our level with UMass when Barry was here. A few issues came up.
1. The Waste Water Plant is on town property. If UMass sells, gives or trades electricity to us they become an electrical generation utility. Not just a campus with an electric plant. They would then possibly fall under DTE regulations.
2. We would have to keep our connection to WMECO and there would be an extra fee if we did use WMECO power.
3. Instead of electricity they could give us steam. This would require us to purchase equipment and operate a power generation facility.



Tara said...
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O'Reilly said...

Amherst town government at least explored the possibility that UMASS would make electricty a part of the bargain... but the bottom line is the value of the electricity actually received and that only if the obstacles identified in 1, 2 and 3 could be resolved.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, but in the 'Strategic Agreement' that we did sign Umass made sure to insert the following:

"The town will explore assuming the costs of maintenance of the water and sewer infrastructure on the campus, including the costs of painting and maintenance of the university-owned water tower at Orchard Hill."

We just did maintenance on one of our water towers two years ago at a cost of $400,000. And taking over their infrastructure (they don’t even have maps showing where all their water/sewer lines are) would require at least 3 more employees at the DPW plus trucks and tools, etc for another $250,000 to $300,000 per year.

O'Reilly said...

"The town will explore assuming the costs of..."

Strange that the agreement calls for the town to "EXPLORE" something rather than "DO" something.

I guess it means UMASS will ask for it in the next round, as an expectation but not necessarily in return for equal value.

LarryK4 said...

Even stranger that the exceedingly expensive proposition of Amherst taking over their water/sewer operation makes it into the agreement—and you’re right they will demand it in five years—yet the prospect of them giving us free electricity isn’t even mentioned as something to “explore”.