July 2019 Meeting
Commissioner Deal With State-Mandated Energy Changes
The State of Maryland is requiring electric companies to double the amount of renewable energy they use from 25 percent to 50 percent. In particular, the amount of renewable energy from solar polar is increasing from 2.5 percent to 14.5 percent.
These changes could drastically increase the electric bills of customers on the Thurmont power system. Currently, Thurmont has the second-lowest electric rates in the state, but these increases could potentially increase the cost of energy for Thurmont by hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
Under law, if a power system is not generating renewable energy, then the system must pay offset credit. These credits were costing $10 per megawatt hour. However, because the changes in state law instantly increases demand without creating additional sources of renewable energy credits, the cost of those credits has jumped to $60 per megawatt hour.
Commissioner Marty Burns was very upset with the changes, saying they weren’t sustainable and that they negatively impact residents.
The commissioners are pursuing a two-pronged approach right now to deal with the changes.
First, they want to lock in the current energy rates if possible. Energy costs have been dropping since the last time the town negotiated an energy contract. These savings could offset the increase energy credit costs for a couple of years.
Second, the town will work with the Town of Easton and other small energy companies to lobby elected officials to try and get some relief.
Town Uses Outside Electric Company to Supplement Town Staff
The Town of Thurmont has seen an increase in after-hours calls to deal with power outages, but it currently does not have enough trained staff to fully handle the calls. Because of this, the town has entered into a contract with Diamond Electric in Keedysville to supplement town staff when after-hours power problems happen. The goal is to get enough town staff trained to handle things, but this will take time. In the meantime, Diamond Electric will keep town staff from being over-worked.
Year-End Budget Adjustments Were Made
The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved the year-end budget amendment to balance out the fiscal year 2019 budget before it closed at the end of June. These included income increases due to interest on accounts and grants received. On the expenditure sides, various amounts were moved from one line item to another. The adjustments were small, with none of them causing concern among the commissioners.