City on hunt for electric deal

By Jason Hawk -

A deal to sell off some of Amherst’s electric utilities equipment and install a second power main is in the works.

Officials are in talks to allow AMP Transmission LLC to buy transmission lines so it can pump some of its energy load through the city en route to other markets, according to mayor Mark Costilow.

AMP is willing to pay to maintain certain local equipment, he said, and to foot the bill for another electric feed line into town — right now, there is only one main and its massive failure March 7 left all of Amherst powerless.

That line is one of the oldest in the state. A second feed would cost $6 million to $7 million, Costilow estimated.

The aim is not to privatize the Amherst electric department, he said. If signed, the deal would not affect the municipal power company at all: “It just lets someone else own some of those transmission lines so they can get electricity through us to another location,” the mayor said.

As it stands, there would be no extra surcharges to residents. Power delivery and service would all stay the same, he said. Outages would be less likely.

And Amherst electric foreman Rich Smith does not believe the deal would cause technical issues, according to Costilow.

AMP Ohio has been in the power generation business for some time and now, as AMP Transmission, wants to get into the lucrative business of delivering electricity, he said.

“They’re going to make millions of dollars on it, there’s no doubt in my mind about that. But if we can get on the horse and ride it, why not?”

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

By Jason Hawk