Unanimous: Town Meeting Says Yes to Substation

Three years after rejection, Light Board, BMLD win approval for $53.7M project

By Franklin Tucker 
February 9, 2012

When the vote was called, the Special Town Meeting expressed its opinion on building a proposed $53.7 million electrical substation with overwhelming silence.

The absence of comment when Town Moderator Mike Widmer asked if anyone opposed the article allowing the bonding authority to build the largest infrastructure project in Belmont's history stunned many of the substation supporters who looked around to the representatives in the Chenery Middle School's auditorium as Town Meeting approved the measure unanimously.

The vote, which drew a round of applause by the representatives and congratulatory handshakes from members of the Belmont Municipal Light Department – the town's independent utility – and its Light Board Advisory Committee, comes less than three years after the BMLD could not muster a two-thirds majority when it initially came before a Special Town Meeting in 2009.

"It's wonderful. A lot of people put a lot of work into an essential project for the town," said Ashley Brown, the chairman of the Belmont Municipal Light Advisory Board, whose members presented the case supporting the article.

"It is also gratifying that the town meeting understood the need to keep our energy independence," said Brown.

The vote allows Town Treasurer Floyd Carman to issue $53.7 million in bonds to purchase the land at 20 Flanders Rd and build a new substation.

In addition, the article allows the Board of Selectmen to negotiate with any energy supplier – almost certainly NSTAR – in an attempt to bargin for a lower cost alternative to a new 115 kV system that will supply Belmont in the future.

"We don't know how we will proceed at the moment but we will begin the process on Monday," said Ralph Jones, chairman of the Board of Selectmen.

If installed, the 115 kV system will increase rates for the average homeowner by around $15 a month.