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November 5, 2011

In their own words: Candidates for Electric Light Commission in Pebody

The four people running for a six-year term on the Peabody Electric Light Commission were invited to submit a short statement talking about their candidacies. Two will be elected on Nov. 8.

Dennis Feld

I have a master's degree in Business Administration from Northeastern University. I have owned and operated a successful business, Evans Flowers of Peabody, for 27 years.

Goals as Light Commissioner:

  - To provide positive and knowledgeable feedback to fellow commissioners

  - To help the commission ensure the plant manager makes good solid business decisions in the best interests of the residents of Peabody.

  - To help the PMLP continue to provide the lowest rates and greatest service for all its customers.

  - To increase the public awareness of the PMLP commission and plant.

  - Research if Going Green is the right decision for the Light Plant.

  - Maintain a positive image for the PMLP, in light of the recent published reports.

Most challenging issues:

  - The transition of a new Light Plant manager.

  - Addressing the issue of consolidation of services as a method of cost-cutting.

  - Continuing to offer customers one of the lowest electric rates in the state.

  - Settling the discrimination suits against the Light Plant in a fair and equitable manner.

Brian Birmingham

I am a graduate of Massachusetts Maritime Academy, having received my BS degree in Marine Engineering, and have utilized that degree for more than 20 years of employment in energy-related positions, including turbine operator, compliance officer and turbine engineer/fireman. My credentials include Massachusetts Stationary Licensed Engineer III, U.S. Coast Guard Licensed Third Engineer, and Fire Fighting Training and Damage Control from the Naval War College in Newport, R.I.

I have attended Peabody Municipal Light Plant meetings on a regular basis for the past two years and as such, am quite familiar with the energy matters that the commission has been addressing during these past few years.

If I am successful in my bid for election as one of your light commissioners, I will be committed to keeping your light plant the most cost-effective light plant on the North Shore. In addition, there are three major projects I will pursue: Identifying new sources of clean and environmentally friendly electric energy generation to replace the Salem power plant's energy output when it closes within the next three years; the reconstruction of the Ipswich River substation in West Peabody, thereby ensuring the continuation of a highly reliable distribution system; and the introduction of a cost-effective, automatic meter-reading technology.

Tom D'Amato, incumbent

I am seeking re-election to a second full term as one of your five municipal light commissioners. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you these past six years.

I believe that our very own light plant is the crown jewel of the city. As such, I have worked diligently to keep your electric rates among the lowest in the commonwealth, while maintaining a service level and storm response that is unparalleled in the utility industry.

During my time on the commission, our plant has maintained that lofty standard while completing a conversion to a 23kv, state-of-the-art distribution system, which ensures that most outages can be isolated and minimized. In keeping with that constant commitment to electrical reliability, we constructed the Summit Street switching station in 2009, which added much-needed circuits; and are now in the planning phase to upgrade our Ipswich River substation, which will add even more capacity for future demand and growth. Both of these construction upgrades, combined with our new distribution system, are designed to allow for easier and more efficient maintenance, while driving down the cost to do so. More simply stated, we are prepared to continue providing our customers, now and in the future, with low rates and unexcelled service and reliability.

Inside our business office, we now offer online bill pay to go along with our very popular 20-percent discount for early payment. Finally, we have recently joined Berkshire Wind Cooperative as an 18-percent shareholder in a collaborative effort to seek out alternative means of renewable energy.

I promise to continue to work tirelessly for the citizens of Peabody in order to keep your electric utility the envy of surrounding cities and towns.

Bill Aylward

I am a lifelong resident of Peabody, and live at 3 Bradford Road with my wife Leslie and two children, Wil, 11, and Chris, 9.

I attended the Peabody public schools through high school, and am a graduate of TAD Technical Institute. I am the owner of Soup to Nuts Property Management and have 20 years' experience in executive management, writing budgets, negotiating contracts and dealing with unions.

I have chosen to run for light commissioner because I strongly believe that the taxpayers' money should stay in Peabody. Currently the city is planning on joining a "Go Green" initiative that would funnel Peabody taxpayers' money to the state in hopes of getting it back by way of grants. There is no guarantee that OUR tax dollars will end up back in Peabody.

I will work closely with plant management to ensure all employees, no matter their gender, are treated equally. Three discrimination lawsuits have been filed against the plant in the last two years.

I will work hard to keep our rates low by putting an end to excessive salaries and pay raises to management.

Also, I am strongly opposed to the elimination of the "early payment discount." It has been recently rumored that this "perk" for families that pay their bills early could be removed to balance the budget and generate more capital for the city. I WILL NOT support it!