2008-07-24 / Front Page

Council questions REAP endorsement

By Sam Bari

The Town Council scrutinized the Rhode Island Energy Aggregation Program (REAP) "Authorization to act as Agent" document at its Monday night meeting.

A letter from the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns Executive Director Dan Beardsley asked the town councils for their endorsements of Beardsley to act as the official agent to negotiate an energy supply contract on the league's behalf.

REAP is a consortium of the 36 municipalities that organized under the auspices of the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns for the purpose of purchasing electricity and other energy-related services from energy power suppliers at the lowest possible prices and with the highest quality of service.

Councilman Robert Sutton questioned the wording of the document because he thought the language was flawed. "We're talking about spending a couple of hundred million dollars," Sutton said. "You'd think the contract wording would be more exact."

Sutton, as well as Town Administrator Bruce Keiser, questioned the authorization of Beard- sley as an individual to act as the sole agent. Sutton said that league members should be endorsing the league president as well as its attorney to act as the negotiating body on the league's behalf.

Keiser said that the present contract collectively saved league member towns $23 million dollars in energy costs to date, and Jamestown's $228,702 in savings was significant. However, he agreed with Sutton that the language of the authorization document should define the scope of Beardsley's authority as an acting agent to include the approval of thepresident and solicitor.

The letter said . . . "the League's Executive Board (at the recommendation of Stone & Webster) is asking all members of the REAP program to authorize the League's Executive Director to: (1) act as their official agent to negotiate an energy supply contract on their behalf and (2) have the limited, lawful authority to bind each member of the program to the electricity contract which is negotiated."

Stone & Webster is the energy consulting firm contracted by the league's executive board to monitor the energy market to determine the best time to secure another electricity contract before the current contract expires.

"I'm not questioning Beardsley's ability to negotiate a good contract," Sutton said. "I am questioning why they want to put the burden of responsibility on an individual without including the president and solicitor in case something happens to Beardsley. Sutton asked what would happen if Beardsley resigned or died.

In the letter, Beardsley offered to talk to the Town Council. Keiser said he would invite him to next week's meeting to address the council and answer any questions they may have. Meanwhile, Keiser said he would draft a letter to Beardsley that included the town's concerns and ask for the language of the agreement to be revised accordingly.

In an unrelated matter, the council reviewed the proposed amendments to the Rules and Regulations of the Board of Water and Sewer Commissioners for section 15, which covers recreational use of the water reservoir, and for date changes to section 15A that specifies the limitations of water use. The council approved advertising the proposed amendments at a public hearing scheduled for Aug. 18.

The proposed Amendment 1, Section 15 says, "The Water Commission from time to time may grant permission for recreational use of the reservoir."

The Amendment 2, Section 15A wording and dates were changed to, "No customer shall use water furnished by the municipal water system for lawn irrigation, house washing, boat washing, or residential car washing from June 30 through October 1 of each year; nor at any time between October 2 and June 29 when the height of the North Reservoir is more than one foot below the top of the spillway and after publication in the manner set forth in this subsection."

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