Several Foxborough officials met with nearly a dozen National Grid representatives, including president Marcy Reed, Wednesday to discuss the town’s ongoing issue with the Union Loop.
“We discussed National Grid’s one-to-four-year plan to immediately address the Union Loop and their five-plus-year-plan to address adding a 115KV source to Foxborough, which would give our residents and businesses a much higher level of service and redundancy when we encounter more storms,” said Board of Selectmen chair James DeVellis.
Details of National Grid's plan were not immediately released but DeVellis said town officials will be working with Foxboro Cable Access TV to put together a summary presentation of Wednesday's meeting. Foxborough Patch will provide details to the FCATV program as well as National Grid's plan to address the Union Loop as the information becomes available.
Joining DeVellis at Wednesday’s meeting in the Andrew Gala Meeting Room of Town Hall were Board of Selectmen vice chair Mark Sullivan, Town Manager Kevin Paicos and Foxborough Fire Chief Roger Hatfield.
DeVellis said he left the meeting impressed and appreciative of National Grid’s presentation and Reed’s “level of attention and professionalism” she has brought to Foxborough.
“The meeting was very informative and productive,” DeVellis said. … “Reed gave us the opportunity to dialogue with her management staff as well as her technical engineers and I will say I was very impressed and appreciative of her level of attention and professionalism she is bringing to Foxborough.”
DeVellis said after discussions with nearly a dozen National Grid representatives, town officials now know more about the area’s sub-transmission and distribution systems, not only in Foxborough but throughout the surrounding towns that make up the Union Loop.
The letter the Board of Selectmen had voted to send to the DPU via Foxborough Town Counsel Richard Gelerman was also discussed during Wednesday’s meeting.
“[The letter was] effectively addressed in this meeting and I think in a much more effective and productive manner,” DeVellis said.
DeVellis said he left the meeting encouraged that National Grid will effectively address the town’s problem with the Union Loop because of the overall improvements the utility company made from the two storms last year to Hurricane Sandy in October.
“[Tropical Storm] Irene and the Halloween storm last year was a disastrous wakeup call,” DeVellis said. “Following that, the town and National Grid worked very hard to address the tree trimming and accountability for Foxborough’s transmission lines and poles as well as the communication process we had or more like we wished we had.
This past storm, Hurricane Sandy, we saw drastic improvement throughout our town’s electric network and the response and communication from National Grid.”
However, DeVellis pointed out there were still many breaks in the Union Loop outside of Foxborough, which still left the vast majority of the town in the dark during and after a major storm. But the BOS chair is as hopeful as ever that this issue will be addressed.
“If National Grid’s next effort to address the Union Loop as they described is as successful as their recent effort to address the system inside Foxborough we will be in much better shape and I was glad to have taken the time to see the details,” DeVellis said.
How We Got Here
Wednesday’s meeting between National Grid and Foxborough officials was the result of the town’s third mass power outage – caused by a storm – in one calendar year. Seventy-five percent of Foxborough was without power at the peak of Hurricane Sandy and it was determined the cause of these power outages is the Union Loop.
Selectmen voiced their frustrations with the power outages and the Union Loop and voted to file a formal complaint against National Grid with DPU to discuss the Union Loop. DeVellis reached out to Reed and invited her and National Grid representatives to a BOS meeting in November but Reed suggested a smaller, private meeting to discuss the town’s frustrations and concerns with the Union Loop. That meeting was held Wednesday.