After nearly a two-year interruption due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Public Utilities Interconnection Working Group met recently to discuss issues related to new connections to the electric system and pending connections to the gas system. The IWG was established early in the Baker-Polito Administration as a vehicle for the real estate development community and the utilities to work together to facilitate more prompt, transparent and cost effective installation of energy infrastructure to residential, commercial, industrial, laboratory and mixed-use projects.
The November 18 meeting of the Interconnection Working Group was kicked off with opening remarks by Lt. Gov. Polito, whose advocacy and support for the group’s efforts has been a major reason why it has been so effective. Mark Leff, Senior Vice President of Salem Five Savings Bank, and Russell Leonard of Leonard Electric in Lowell, are the co-chairs of the HBRAMA’s Utilities Subcommittee. Mark and Russ are the driving forces behind the IWG.
Much of the discussion at the IWG centered on homebuilders’ frustrations working on projects serviced by the major utilities. The common thread has been inadequate communication to builders about job status, as well as delays in providing that service. Russ Leonard emphasized that he believes the root cause is insufficient resources to complete work in a timely fashion, and also recognized COVID’s role in keeping utility employees working at home; resulting in declining communication between engineering and staffing departments. The HBRAMA Utility Subcommittee will continue direct conversations in the coming months with the utilities about improving performance and more transparency.