2018-05-18 / Community

Two candidates for power district seat

Candidate profiles

Kennebunk Light and Power District Board of Trustees

There is one opening this year on the board of the local power company, and, as in recent elections, the contest appears to be a referendum on the fate of the Mousam River dams.

The challenger, Albert Kolff, is solidly in favor of keeping the dams in place, and as generators or power, if at all possible. Meanwhile, the incumbent, Jay Kilbourn, participated in the vote to surrender the district’s federal power license, although he has yet to commit to a position on whether the dams themselves should stay or be removed.

Profiles for the two candidates in the June 12 election are printed below in alphabetical order. The KLPD trustee’s job is a five-year term, meaning whichever man is elected, he will sit though the end of the filing period with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that could see KLPD’s current power license transferred to American First Hydro, the sole applicant to take over the power generating capability, presuming a deal with KLPD can be worked out.

Name: Jonathan “Jay” Kilbourn

Age: 64

Address: Bourne Street (23 year) — has lived in Maine 27 years.

Contact: email: jkilbourn1@gmail.com; phone: 370-9858

Occupation: President of local energy consulting firm BioEnergy Revisioning, LLC (three years). Former vice president at Casella Waste Systems, Inc. (25 years)

Family: Married to Molly Hoadley (32 yrs) with two adult children.

Education Completed: Bachelor’s degree with a concentration in political science from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut (1977); has completed courses towards a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Southern Maine.

Past Political Experience: Kennebunk Light and Power District Board of Trustees, (2013-present, including three years as president); MSAD 71 Board of Directors (2000-2006); Democratic Party candidate for State Senate Dist. 34 (2016); liaison at Citizens Climate Lobby (two years).

Organizations and activities: Clerk, First Parish Preservation Foundation; Assistant Treasurer, First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church; Member, Edgcomb Tennis Club.

Why are you seeking elective office at this time?

Above all else, it is my goal to continue to bring good process and inclusiveness to the critical work of KLPD. This is how tough problems get solved. Sometimes we all get cynical about our government. For this great democracy to continue to succeed, it is vital that all of us participate to the greatest extent our lives will allow. This is our community, our state and our country, after all. My career in recycling and clean energy, concluding as a vice president at Casella Waste Systems (a.k.a. Pinetree Waste), offered me the chance to develop skills which will help me benefit our community. My consulting business offers me the spare time necessary to be a responsible trustee. For KLPD to continue to be successful, it must operate in an open manner, bringing all parties to the table to achieve the best solutions. Meetings must be run fairly, respectfully, and comply with the open meeting laws of Maine. Information must be readily available to the public. Transparent government, good process and respectful public input are essential to our success.

Top three issues

1. Strategic Plan — The election of a KLPD trustee is about a whole lot more than the future of the Mousam River dams. KLPD is very important in our community. To ensure that KLPD remains independent of CMP and open for business long into the future, the plan must be based upon changing market conditions. We should implement the plan and consider extending the benefits of KLPD service to all of Kennebunk. That’s sound leadership. As a Trustee of KLPD for five years, I have learned that small “consumer owned” non-profit utilities like KLPD have the most to offer their customers and we face the biggest threats. Public power companies, unlike global utilities, have little market power. Electric technologies and markets are changing quickly, and they are complex. We do not yet know the full local market impact of solar technology, electric heat pumps, battery storage, distributed power, electric vehicles and new forms of power production and distribution. So, management must use our small staff prudently, complete KLPD’s strategic plan, adopt the right strategies and spend and invest wisely. And, trustees should guide this initiative with ongoing public comment and involvement.

2. Mission fulfillment — We must focus on safety and maintain our exemplary safety record, improving safety training, and protecting our staff and customers. We must reliably provide electricity, reduce the risk of blackouts, build redundancy into all of our systems, maintain and upgrade to a SMART Grid, and invest to replace the Water Street substation, which is near the end of its life. Under my leadership, as President, KLPD has become more energy independent by contracting to install this year a large (3MW) utility scale solar power plant near the West Kennebunk substation. It will deliver 4 percent of our power needs and is estimated to save customers about $1,347,000 over its lifetime. We should expand cheap, local renewable power as one strategy. As President, I led the renegotiation of our power supply contract with NextEra, and we have already saved about $1,936,000 for our customers. Savings will continue until the contract expires in 2020. We must secure our future power supply contract and ensure affordable future power. We can save more money with energy efficiency initiatives and strategies to reduce expensive peak power demand, putting customers in charge.

3. Internet provision — We should approve the proposed feasibility study to enter into a public/private partnership to deliver lower cost and ultra-high speed internet to our community, determine the costs and benefits of such a plan, and secure the matching grant from the Post Road Foundation. At the direction of trustees, and in line with our draft strategic plan, our general manager has made great progress on this goal. We are extremely fortunate to have a public power utility that is interested principally in our customers and communities, rather than profit for overseas investors like CMP. It is possible for us to leverage our assets, our KLPD poles, rights of way, and management team for economic growth and broaden our customer benefit. Success would bring lower internet costs, fiber-optic infrastructure, and choices for customers and businesses. It would grow and attract economic opportunities for our future.

How do you view the handling thus far of the Mousam Dam license renewal by the KLPD Board of Trustees, and what do you see as the best final fate for the dams.

The dams have divided our community. Debate guided by facts is essential. KLPD should communicate the known facts more effectively to the public. I support controlling costs and balancing river protection, community concerns, and modern river ecology standards. I will continue to listen, review new information (there will be a lot), and take a slow and careful approach. We must avoid costly litigation, leverage potential grants, and heal our community. Without cost information, the best solution cannot be known yet. Today KLPD generates expensive hydro-power. Three engineering reports confirm that it would likely be very costly to continue to operate the hydropower plants when KLPD’s license expires in 2022. Cost projections are staggering. That’s why I voted with all voting trustees not to renew the license. We did not determine the fate of the dams themselves. Dam abutters and others want to retain dams for the value of ponds, including protecting property values, historic preservation and recreation. Others tout dam removal for a running river, improved water quality and habitat, recreation and protection of our fisheries. Future hydropower is in the hands of the federal regulatory agency. A private company (America First) has applied to license the facilities. If they succeed, KLPD will need to negotiate terms to transfer the dams. If they fail, KLPD must propose a plan for the dams. We do not yet know what the feds will require in our plan or the costs. Before we pick a solution, we should know the costs.

Name: Albert Kolff

Age: 74

Address: Brown Street.

Contact: email: kolff@sbeglobal.net.

Occupation: Retired (was a hospital architect for 37 years).

Family: Married (46 years) with three adult children, two grandchildren.

Education completed: Three degrees over eight years, ending with a master’s degree in architectural planning and design for hospitals from Columbia University.

Political experience: Inland wetlands commissioner, Darien, Connecticut; New Canaan Planning & Zoning Commissioner, New Canaan, Connecticut (10 years).

Organizations and activities: Member, New Canaan Rotary Club; Member, First Congregational Church of Fairfield, Connecticut; Founding member; Save the Mousam/Keep the Kennebunk Dams.

Why are you seeking elective office at this time?

I am concerned about the future of KLPD’s projects and costs that will impact ratepayers and how KLPD will interact with FERC and America First Hydro (AFH) in the dam licensing renewal. I am an architect with major project experiences who can assist KLPD. I am a conservationist with specific interest in the future of the Mousam River as it runs through Kennebunk as a magnificent wildlife corridor offering the best kept secret in town. Not many residents realized that the dams provided clean electrical power until KLPD presented a public presentation of what the river would look like without the dams!

Top three issues:

1. Electric rates — I want to keep KLPD electric rates low for ratepayers and delivery reliable through the next volatile years of KLPD maintenance. The Water Street substation upgrade of transformers to provide reliable electricity is a major maintenance project. As a master planner with experience keeping services operating through renovation projects, I will work with KLPD’s selected contractor to keep costs on budget and on schedule to prevent change orders and cost overruns.

America First Hydro LLC (AFH) has filed a Notice Of Intent with the Federal Energy Commission (FERC) for the license application, believing the hydro production of the dams can be automated, upgraded and output increased with prudent investments. They are committed to a profitable venture despite significant challenges from opposition groups intent on removing our three dams — a movement to remove all Maine, U.S. and world dams. Over the last two years, I have established a working relationship with FERC staff who are committed to maintaining hydropower as a safe, reliable, renewable clean energy source compatible with fish habitats. To date FERC staff are reviewing AFH’s nine proposed studies to fulfill the license application. I am the candidate most knowledgeable to lead KLPD through this licensing process and do it mindful of the local voters wishes.

2. Climate change — We need all the possible forms of renewable energy and conservation to offset the human impact on climate change. This means KLPD purchasing renewable sources of electricity as well as promoting conservation of electricity by ratepayers. I am not convinced that the current Solar Energy Facility (SEF) contract with NextEra is good for KLPD as the costs are pushed off to the future! NextEra becomes owner of the SEF and can flip (sell) ownership at any time. “The NextEra company generally develops projects, then transfer them to another entity to own and operate.” said Aaron Svedlow project director solar development for NextEra, as quoted in a MaineBiz article. According to the contract, the termination payment in six years would be $4,700,000. This does not include the “appraised fair market value” of the two parcels of land currently owned by KLPD and the SEF assets. KLPD is not a producer of solar energy, it is only purchasing the power in a Power Purchase Agreement with NextEra until KLPD owns the facilities! KLPD will keep generating hydropower electricity through the current license to reduce the human impact on CO2 affecting climate change. We will keep the dams to allow the rapidly changing technology of hydro power.

3. Public communication — I would improve communication immediately with KLPD ratepayers and Kennebunk voters. In November of 2016, the Kennebunk voters had an opportunity to vote on three issues regarding the dams because the public brought those issues to the voters, not the KLPD Trustees at that time. KLPD ratepayers were never surveyed and the results of the community vote were totally ignored by that existing board of trustees with my opponent as president. I intend to improve communication regarding the owners of the eight additional dams in the Mousam in a proactive way. We need a comprehensive plan to improve the water quality and fish habitat of the entire Mousam River. What happens upstream drains through Kennebunk.

How do you see the handling thus far of the Mousam Dam license renewal by KLPD board of trustees, and what do you see as the best final fate for the dams?

The current president/candidate of KLPD , along with Maine Rivers organization, most likely did not expect to see AFH file for a license renewal. A new license from FERC will protect the dams from demolition and constant legal efforts by Maine Rivers to have them removed. This June 12th your vote may be the most important Kennebunk vote to keep the dams, keep the historic significance and 100 years of nature’s evolved eco-environment accessible to all recreational water crafts and save the Mousam as it is!

The best final fate of the dams is for KLPD to work with AFH. KLPD lost the knowledge of how to operate the hydropower generation. AFH will operate the generation and with Kennebunk support can protect the existence of the dams by receiving a license from FERC to operate them for the next 40 or 50 years. In 2022 FERC will make a ruling much like a jury with all the information of a trial presentation over the next three years. With your vote to elect me as a KLPD trustee, we can work toward keeping the Kennebunk dams and save the Mousam with improved water quality and fish habitat.

Compiled by Staff Writer Duke Harrington. He can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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