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Electric Utility

How BELD delivers electric savings and reliability for Braintree businesses

General Manager Bill Bottiggi talks public power 101, how BELD keeps rates low, and the story behind its “Braintree: Open for Business” campaign.

BELD has been Braintree’s electric provider for more than 125 years. The world has changed considerably since then, but we still pride ourselves on offering superior service at low rates to all our customers.

BELD supplies electric service to approximately 16,000 residential and business customers in the town of Braintree using cost-of-service rates, which are among the lowest in the state. The utility operates generation, transmission and distribution facilities.

BELD’s 14-square-mile service territory includes 148 miles of overhead lines and 88 miles of underground lines. We operate three electric distribution substations and two 115 kilovolt (kV) transmission interchange substations. BELD is connected to two separate 115 kV NStar transmission lines, which are part of the ISO New England electric grid. This provides BELD with easy access to power supply sources throughout the Northeast.

When the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) ordered deregulation to begin in 1998, it allowed customers of privately owned Massachusetts electric companies to be given a choice in energy suppliers. The new legislation allowed customers to choose what company they wanted to receive their energy from. This restructuring law was introduced to create competition and lower electric costs for consumers. However, Braintree Electric Light is a municipal electric utility and is exempt from this legislation. Currently, BELD has no plans to open our borders and allow for electric competition in the town. BELD continues to maintain low-cost and reliable electric service to all our customers.

BELD is a founding member of Energy New England (ENE), an organization dedicated to helping municipal electric utilities with power procurement, residential energy conservation services, consulting and more. BELD employees are also active with the American Public Power AssociationNortheast Public Power Association and the Municipal Electric Association of Massachusetts.

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Thomas A. Watson Generating Station

BELD’s Thomas A. Watson Generating Station commenced commercial operation in the ISO New England market system on June 23, 2009. The simple-cycle gas-fired plant was powered by the first two Rolls-Royce Trent 60 gas turbines built for the U.S. power generation market—known as Watson Units #1 and #2.

The Watson units lower costs for Braintree residents. BELD’s Power Cost Adjustment (PCA)—which is tied directly to our cost of buying electricity through the regional system—was reduced four times during the plant’s first year of operation.

The Thomas A. Watson Generating Station was named one of the fourteen best power plants in the world in the January-February 2010 edition of Diesel & Gas Turbine Worldwide magazine.

The Spruce Mountain Wind Project

Braintree Electric Light Department has signed a purchase power agreement with Patriot Renewables to purchase 19% of the output of a wind farm located in Woodstock, Maine. We expect that Spruce Mountain Wind will provide enough power to meet the electrical requirements of approximately 1,800 homes in Braintree. Here is a video chronicling the development of Spruce Mountain Wind.