By Justin Roshak, Contributing Writer
HUDSON – The Municipal Light Board approved three proposals addressing outdated infrastructure, an underground natural gas leak and an abandoned oil tank at its July 20 meeting.
Totaling $89,916, the contracts come as Hudson Light and Power has also ended its pandemic-era amnesty for late bill payments.
The largest of those three contracts will fund new relays for a distribution substation. The parts will replace old-fashioned electro-mechanical relays which are more than 40 years old, as recommended by the Department’s consulting engineer.
The $61,766.25 project was not put out to bid due to concern about compatibility between the new parts and the existing system.
“I’m asking for sole source,” said general manager Brian Choquette. “You don’t want different relays. We want to use the same device.”
The new relays will be computer controllable. They are manufactured by Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories and will be purchased from Robinson Sales, Inc. of Saxton River, VT.
“They’re recognized as one of the leading protection relays that exist,” Choquette added.
He observed that while a quote from another company like General Electric might be “half the price,” there would be no guarantee the parts would be compatible with Hudson’s current infrastructure.
Another contract, to repair and replace an underground natural gas leak at the Cherry Street Station, was awarded to R. H. White Construction of Auburn, MA. The project was put out to bid, but R. H. White was the only qualified bidder. That project will cost $19,650.
“We had three bidders come on site so that they could bid,” Choquette explained. “Two of the three decided to no-bid. They did not want the job. The job was too small for them.”
The repairs will support required Environmental Protection Agency testing. Those testing requirements have ramped up at the state level following a major gas leak in Andover, Choquette said.
Light and Power will also remove an abandoned oil tank in the mezzanine of the Cherry Street Station, as recommended by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA).
“This is an abandoned tank, so it doesn’t have anything in it,” Coquette said. “The risk is extremely low for anything to go wrong.”
The low bid for the project, $8,500, was by CommTank, a company that specializes in tank removal.
Light and Power is further moving to collect money owed from 2020, when a pandemic-induced amnesty period provided residents the opportunity to delay payment in exchange for partial repayment.
“The COVID rules were ‘Give me thirty percent and we’ll give you another 18 months,’” Choquette explained.
The department is moving to restore its traditional timelines for terminally late accounts. As such, Hudson Light and Power has already posted notes on more than 200 doors, warning residents who owe money of power cuts. Some residents have already found their power cut off once the grace period expired.
“It was a crazy few days of cuts,” customer relations and administrative assistant Holly Conry told the Board.