2000s: Investing for the new millennium

BELD TrucksIn order to meet the demands of the new millennium, BELD employees continued to expand the department’s service offerings and made a number of strategic investments during the 2000s. High-definition television (HDTV) and Video on Demand (VOD) were launched in 2003. In October of that same year, a new general manager, William G. Bottiggi, was brought on board.

Improvements were made to the underground 115 kV transmission system loop (the electrical tie under Route 128 between Wood Road and Brooks Drive) in 2004. Additionally, the Cable Modem Termination System was replaced with higher-capacity equipment in order to optimize Internet download speeds and build a high-speed fiber optic backbone for Braintree High School. BELD continued its efforts to give back to the community by installing a new electric service for the Watson Library, upgrading the management information system at the Police Department, and performing extensive work on Braintree’s Web-based Geographic Information System (GIS).

The aging SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system was replaced in 2005 with one that provided better communication and control of BELD substations. The Plain Street Substation was also renovated and BELD co-sponsored a pilot program with Climate Energy. The program selected five Braintree households to be the first in the United States to test an innovative hybrid home heating and power generation system.

In 2006, the HFC (hybrid fiber-optic coax) network was upgraded, which increased the quality of existing broadband service and expanded BELD’s service offerings with the addition of a robust phone service at highly competitive prices. As is done every seven years, BELD overhauled the Potter II Generating Station in 2006. Although this was a complex and expensive undertaking, it was a critical step to ensuring the reliability of Braintree’s electric service.

BELD broke ground in 2007 to start construction on the Thomas A. Watson Generating Station. Assets such as this continue to support BELD’s efforts to protect our community against the continual rise in electricity prices. After five years of planning, permitting, constructing, and commissioning, the station was completed on schedule and on budget in 2009. The plant was powered by the first two Rolls-Royce Trent 60 gas turbines built for the U.S. power generation market. The new plant is one of the most modern and efficient in the country. It will benefit the Town of Braintree for years to come by helping to stabilize electric rates and protect residents from fluctuating market forces.

In an effort to expand its renewable portfolio, BELD signed an agreement with Patriot Renewables in 2011 to purchase 19% of the output of a wind farm located in Woodstock, ME. Spruce Mountain Wind should provide enough power to meet the electrical requirements of approximately 1,800 homes in Braintree for years to come.

The age of advanced metering is upon us. After years of careful planning, watching the evolution of the technology, meeting with vendors and evaluating systems, BELD began an advanced metering project during the first quarter of 2011. The advanced metering system will automatically read meters and provide more value-added features—including outage notification, voltage quality, tamper alarms, and remote disconnect ability.

BELD’s ongoing strategic investments in electrical transmission and distribution systems will help to preserve the highest possible reliability at the lowest reasonable cost for the Town of Braintree.