As we head towards a new clean energy future, we know that all decisions we make with regard to renewable and sustainable resources must be economically and environmentally responsible ones. Taunton Municipal Lighting Plant is – and has always been - committed to securing responsible and reliable energy sources for its ratepayers.
The next three decades will be ones of change for electric utilities. TMLP has been preparing for these changes through long-range planning and progressive, forward-thinking policies. We’ve stayed focused and have taken a leadership role in this evolution of change with our solar and community solar programs, energy storage and distributed energy programs, and our fiscally-conscious renewable energy contracts that will lead us into the future.
The world will look different in 2050, and so will TMLP. Our infrastructure will change as will the skills of our employees as we embrace new technology and adapt to these new power sources and policies.
We know we can’t predict the future, but we do know that TMLP will be ready.
As we close out 2019, it is interesting to look back two decades to 1999 when we were entering the dawn of a new millennium. It was a time when technology was rapidly evolving right before our eyes and advances were made that were unthinkable just 20 years earlier.
Technology has continued to evolve at lightning speed since 1999 and we are now able to harness power from more renewable sources than we were just 20 years ago. Global warming and calls to reduce our carbon footprint have led to proposed changes and mandates for a greener energy supply and an increase in renewable energy sources to utility portfolios. During the past two decades, federal and state governments have steered utilities like TMLP on a course toward adding more renewable energy to their mix.
Since the start of the new millennium, TMLP set its course to not only embrace this future, but to be among the frontrunners in this evolution of change. We know that being at the front of the pack doesn’t mean disregarding what has made TMLP the utility it is today. It means making smart choices that reflect a commitment to our ratepayers and a commitment to clean energy and a future of renewable energy.
During 2019, TMLP embraced this future with several initiatives to help keep rates low, add more carbon free fuel sources to the portfolio and ensure that we have the infrastructure and technology to implement these initiatives. The distributive generation project at the West Water Street station continues to exceed expectations in reduced peak load, leading to significant savings for our ratepayers. Work on the 3 MW battery storage project at the Cleary-Flood Generation Station was near completion at year-end and is expected to provide additional savings in mitigating capacity and transmission costs when it begins operation in 2020. This latter project was made possible by a $1.25 million grant, one of the largest amounts awarded in late 2017 by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources.
We also made it easier for all residential customers to commit to renewable energy beginning in 2019 by introducing a voluntary Go Green 100% rate and by participating in local and area initiatives to promote electric vehicles through our Taunton Drives Electric program.
In recognition of our ongoing efforts as a leader in this evolution of renewable energy, TMLP was one of only 67 public power utilities in the country recognized with a Smart Energy Provider (SEP) designation by the American Public Power Association (APPA). This best practice designation recognizes utilities that show commitment to and proficiency in energy efficiency, distributed generation, renewable energy, and environmental initiatives. This prestigious award comes on the heels of the Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3) designation from APPA that we received in 2018. This three-year designation is awarded to less than 12% of the public power utilities in the country and recognizes TMLP for providing the highest level of safe and reliable service to our customers. We are humbled to be recognized for our ongoing efforts and to stand among the best of the 2,000-plus public power utilities in the country.
TMLP is well on its way to meeting the mandates and regulations that may lead to 100% renewable energy portfolio by 2050. While 1999 may be in the rearview mirror, we are on the fast track to 2049 to be in the best position for an all renewable energy future.
It’s a message that we frequently repeat to our ratepayers: you are the Taunton Municipal Lighting Plant. TMLP is owned by the ratepayers who are our customers, and our neighbors. It is the ratepayers who elect us, the members of the Board of Light Commissioners, to represent and protect their interests when it comes to keeping rates competitive, providing reliable power and making smart choices regarding green and carbon-free fuel sources and renewable energy programs.
It’s a responsibility that we take seriously especially as we prepare for the next 30 years. Like all electric utilities, TMLP is evolving and embracing change. We are heading toward a future of more renewable energy and green energy choices. We have been charged with being protectors of the environment, but we must first be the protectors of our customers. While decisions made in 2019 will affect our customers in the future, these decisions are also affecting our customers right now. The West Water Street distributed generation project is an example of how these decisions lead us into the future while ensuring stable rates today.
In 2019, this commitment led to initiatives and projects that will help meet the future needs of all customers. We introduced a voluntary Go Green 100% rate for customers who want 100% of their electricity to come from renewable resources. This all renewable energy rate lets TMLP purchase enough renewable energy attributes to continue to maintain a diverse energy mix while offering all customers the opportunity to voluntarily participate in a program that is important to them. This program reinforces our proactive approach to investing in renewable energy in a common-sense way.
We recognize that like TMLP, our customers are all unique. Each residential, commercial and industrial customer account has a voice – and we hear them all. Some want us to charge headlong into 100% renewal energy while others embrace a more conservative approach. Still others are somewhere in between. We represent them all.
Being a trusted resource also means that we refine, as we redefine, our focus. As the largest municipal electric utility in Massachusetts with 37,000 meters, TMLP sets its future course with a 20-plus year vision. The choices that we make today must withstand the short-term benefits and continue to have a positive impact far into the future. Our power generating facility at the Cleary-Flood Station and the West Water Street facility are examples of how decisions made by our predecessors are just as important, and play as significant a role, as before. These facilities co-exist with the distributed generation project that is now in operation and will house our battery storage system in the future. Conversely, the decisions that we make today with regard to renewable and sustainable resources must also withstand the test of time and not place a financial burden on future customers.
TMLP takes its role as an economically-responsible, environmental steward seriously, one that incorporates technology in a reasonable, risk-balanced manner for all customers.
Taunton Municipal Lighting Plant continued to be laser focused on providing safe, reliable, electric and internet service to all customers in 2019. The year included the introduction and implementation of a Go Green 100% program for residential and commercial customers who want their electricity to come from 100% renewable energy sources. Through this voluntary program, TMLP purchases qualifying Massachusetts Class 1 Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) to meet the customer’s electricity needs which guarantees that their electricity comes from renewable energy sources.
TMLP’s commitment to providing opportunities for its customers to reduce their own carbon footprint included the launch of TMLP Drives Electric, an Electric Vehicle (EV) awareness and rebate program that provides access to comprehensive EV resources and support from EV specialists. To promote the use of EVs, TMLP introduced customer rebates for the purchase of a new or used Electric Vehicle as well as for the purchase and/or installation of a Level 2 Charger and a monthly credit per vehicle for off-peak charging. Additionally, TMLP purchased two Chevy Bolt vehicles for its use in the 100 square mile territory with funds obtained through the 2019 Massachusetts Electric Vehicle Incentive Program (MassEVIP) Fleets grant.
As an acknowledgement of these and other environmentally responsible initiatives, the American Public Power Association recognized TMLP as a Smart Energy Provider (SEP) in 2019 for demonstrating commitment to and proficiency in energy efficiency, distributed generation, and environmental initiatives that support a goal of providing low-cost, quality, safe, and reliable electric service. This two-year designation recognizes public power utilities for demonstrating leading practices in four key disciplines: smart energy program structure, energy efficiency and distributed energy programs, environmental and sustainability initiatives and customer experience. TMLP is one of only 66 public power utilities nationwide to receive the inaugural SEP designation.
TMLP’s solar program was bolstered through its participation in the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) Municipal Light Plant (MLP) Solar Program for the installation of small-scale solar projects. As one of 36 municipal light plants that participated in the program, TMLP committed $350,000 which was matched by DOER for a potential total of $700,000 in program funds. Several TMLP customers took advantage of the rebate program by year-end.
While TMLP continued to be a leader in responsible procuring of renewable energy sources, the utility was equally focused on ensuring stable rates for all customers. The West Water Street distributed generation project produced significant savings in avoided costs of more than $1 million for TMLP in 2019. This savings is the result of peak load reductions and controlled costs.
The construction of our 3 MW battery storage project at the Cleary-Flood station started in late 2019 with an expectation to be operational in early 2020. The system will assist TMLP’s efforts to achieve a more reliable, clean, resilient and affordable energy portfolio. The project was bolstered by a $1.25M grant in late 2017 from the Energy Storage Initiative (ESI) Advancing Commonwealth Energy Storage program, funded by the Department of Energy Resources and administered by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center.
TMLP also began the process to decommission the 26-megawatt Unit 8 generator that was built in 1965 at the Cleary-Flood Generation Station. The unit ceased operations in mid-2019 and is expected to be decommissioned in 2023. TMLP continued improvements to the Cleary-Flood and West Water Street stations, including the installation of a duct bank for power and communication for data and internet, the replacement of the condenser isolation valves and the implementation of North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) cyber security procedures in cooperation with the Management Information Services (MIS) group.
Within TMLP operations, personnel training, inspections and recycling programs were expanded as were systems which directly benefit customers. The transition to the Cogsdale Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system began in 2019 and is expected to be completed in 2021. A new in-house billing system was also successfully implemented in 2019. Both the Cogsdale and in-house billing system will provide greater flexibility and control.
Customer participation in energy efficiency programs and opportunities continued to be robust. An additional 102.85 kW of residential solar power was installed and $54,000 in solar rebates distributed to residential customers. Commercial systems totaling 211.82 kW were also constructed which added 314.67 kW to the TMLP grid. Total solar connected power at year end was 26,495,199 kWh produced, and 14,845,210 kWh consumed. The Conservation Program performed energy audits for residential and commercial customers in 2019, and customers also took advantage of the House ‘N Home Thermal and Energy Star appliance rebate programs.
TMLP continued to grow within the territory with the installation of electric service to nine (9) subdivisions. Work also included the completion of Department of Transportation (DOT) relocation and reconductoring projects, pole replacements, the installation of new traffic signals and duct banks, as well as the installation of 147 transformers and the removal of 89 transformers. Community projects included tennis court lighting at Taunton High School and the replacement of the historic clock in downtown Taunton. The replacement of mercury streetlights continued in 2019 with the installation of 1,757 high efficiency LED lights, helping meet the utility’s energy efficiency goals.
The Internet Services business unit, TMLP Online, conducted a feasibility and small cell study to review the expansion of fiber optic internet access throughout the territory. The study evaluated the ability and accessibility to expand internet services on a large scale throughout the service territory. The report, as well as future expansion opportunities are expected in 2020.
TMLP continued to increase its presence on social media as a means to notify customers in real-time about important matters and emergency situations, and plans were in place for the launch of both a new website and eNewsletter at year-end. TMLP staff donated to several organizations during the year including the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Make a Wish of MA and RI, and the United Way in addition to the many charitable endeavors supported by individuals and families. The annual Open House at 55 Weir Street was held during Public Power Week for the third consecutive year. TMLP continued its association with the Leddy School as a business partner and hung banners in support of local organizations and community events.
Antone Almeida Jr.
Mark Blackwell Jr.
Michael Emond, Jr.
Joseph Fernandes Jr
Jeffrey G. Leconte
Richard Rose Jr.
Thomas St. John
Roger St. Laurent
Anna May Vieira