Municipal Light Board discusses $2,632,446 in two 23 kV transformers

The Municipal Light Board Department on Monday discussed contract negotiations for the purchase of two 23kilovolt- 13kilovolt (kv) transformers costing an estimated $2,632,446.

Three bids submitted in time to meet the Board’s  Dec. 14 deadline included Hitachi Energy’s bid for $3,908,600 with a delivery window of 122 to 128 weeks and Niagara Power’s bid $2,663,782 with delivery in 108 weeks. Virginia Transformers submitted the most attractive bid: $2,632,446 with a delivery window of 60 to 65 weeks.

All board members were in favor of the motion to authorize the Light Board general manager to finalize contract negotiations with Virginia Transformers.

There was also a motion to purchase performance bonding, which was not included in the bidding price.

From a price of $1,700,000 in July 2022 to the bid of $2,632,446 this month, the cost to manufacture the two transformers rose by nearly 40 percent.

“We would conclude a contract for the transformers, I’m saying in January,” said Joseph Kowalik, General Manager of the Municipal Light Department.

If that timeline can be maintained, the transformers could possibly be delivered in April 2024, with construction lasting through July. This would put the substation upgrade on track to be completed in August 2024.

In other business Monday, William Jackson, manager of distribution for the Municipal Light Board Department, resigned from his position, giving a two-week notice.

“He came from Peabody five years ago, because the general manager at the time offered him a good salary. He is one of the highest paid distribution managers in Massachusetts, and Peabody hired him back,” said Kowalik.

The Light Board Department is considering and evaluating an internal candidate. Kowalik said.

“One of the two working foremen has expressed his desire to not just be interim but to be permanent. So the person I would consider is a serious candidate.”

“We hire someone off the street as an apprentice — it takes five years and we end up paying to train them, $40,000 to $50,000. They get an education from it,” added Kowalik.

Commissioner Jean-Jacques Yarmoff suggested experienced power grid experts who worked on Puerto Rico’s damaged power grid might be good candidates for the manager’s job.

“There are plenty of people there who seem to have decent experience. It’s not cold-weather experience, but then again, those are experienced folks looking for a job,” said Yarmoff.

“I’ve been searching New England for the best candidate. I didn’t think of Puerto Rico,” replied Kowalik

The job posting is located on the Northeast Public Power Association (NEPPA) website offering a salary between $130,000 to $150,000 based on experience. Kowalik aims to fill the non-union position as soon as January.