City looks to lower power costs

MILFORD, CONNECTICUT - The price the city pays for electricity is going down, but officials would like to see another rate — recycling participation — go up.

A new contract with Trans Canada that took effect late last month reduced the cost of electricity for municipal buildings to 9.8 cents per kilowatt hour, a 5 percent decrease from the previous 10.3 cents, Mayor James L. Richetelli Jr. said.

Since 2007, when the city stopped buying electricity from the United Illuminating Co.

and joined a bulk purchase program organized by the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities the rate has steadily gone down, officials said. CCM seeks periodic bids from generating companies to get the best prices.

By the time the current contract ends in 2014, Milford will have saved $870,000 compared to what it would have paid to UI, Richetelli said.

CCM spokesman Kevin Maloney said that more than 120 municipalities and school districts have joined the bulk-buying program and they saved a combined $4.5 million last year.

But Milford continues to have a low recycling rate compared to other communities, and a new SMART/PAYT Committee is examining ways to increase participation and collection.

The six-member ad hoc advisory panel, which includes state Rep. Barbara Lambert, D-Milford; Diane Vasseur, the recycling chairwoman of the Environmental Concerns Coalition, and city sanitation foreman Dan Hooks, recently held its first meeting.

The acronym stands for "Save Money And Reduce Trash/Pay As You Throw," and will recommend ways to reduce the waste stream, including removing more items for recycling.

Genevieve Salvatore, the Democratic mayoral candidate, proposed a "Triple R" plan for increasing recycling, including setting up an "exchange" in a central location where Milford residents could arrange to pick up items that someone else might otherwise discard.

Salvatore also called for a "single-source" program in which residents would no longer have to sort items before putting them at the curb.

Information at the state Department of Environmental Protection Web site said that single-stream programs increase participation because of the convenience, but sometimes reduce the quality of the items collected.

Salvatore said that she would also like to see the city recycle more items, including cereal boxes and other grades of plastic.

"Many communities in Connecticut recycle boxboard and there is no reason that Milford can't as well," she said.

Richetelli said that while increasing recycling is a worthwhile goal, "we also have to consider the costs of doing it."


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