PUD officials highlight 2019 achievements, voters elect Blodgett to commission

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BURRILLVILLE – Voters in the Pascoag Utility District have elected newcomer John Blodgett and incumbent John DeMemlin for three year terms, and incumbent Michael Kogut for a two year term, on the utility company’s governing board.

Blodgett, a former EMT who spent 28 years working for the district, was the top vote-getter at PUD’s annual meeting held Monday, Dec. 2 with 60 votes.

PUD General Manager Michael Kirkwood presented the district’s achievements in 2019 at the annual meeting, noting that a water system truck was replaced with a 2019 Chevy Silvarado, and officials replaced water meter registers at no cost to customers. He noted that water testing in 2019 showed very low levels of lead and copper, and that the commission has held rates steady for customers since 2013.

The district also secured a 43 percent grant for phase 3 of a water main project, and addressed leak detection “dramatically” lowering the amount of unbilled water that flows out, Kirkwood said.

For the electrical system, Kirkwood noted that the district replaced a bucket truck at a great price by purchasing a used vehicle at auction, performed a reliability upgrade that will save the district $6 million to 12 million in capital, and has also held rates steady since 2013.

Kirkwood also outlined PUD’s plans for the future, noting that the small utility company will gain further independence by upgrading an electric substation as an alternative to a $6-12 million upgrade to a National Grid feeder line, and continue to improve efficiency lowering the need to purchase energy, transmission services and capacity from regional grid operator ISO-NE.

In 2020, PUD will also participate in the Light Up Navajo Nation project, an effort to connect the Native American territory to the electric grid.

The district reportedly saw a net loss of $4,222 for electric service, and a net income for water services of $143,534 in 2019.

Candidate Mark St. Pierre, meanwhile, did not secure a seat on the Board of Utility Commissioners, receiving only 22 votes.

Moderator Raymond Trinque was not challenged for the seat and will serve another term.

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