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Council hears energy proposal

The March 6 meeting of the Hellertown Borough Council covered a variety of topics, including a presentation from Joule Community Power regarding Community [energy] Choice Aggregation, a proposal for the restoration of a valuable historical artifact, and an update on an outstanding invoice for public works building construction.

First, Joule’s Dennis Rowan shared an ‘Opportunity Report’ on CCA, which allows boroughs to determine the default energy offerings for residents and small businesses, replacing the current state-based system. Such an arrangement presents multiple benefits for a “CCA Borough,” when a company such as Joule effectively operates as administrator and achieves long-term fixed pricing for customers, he said.

Rowan affirmed that before asking the council to take action, Joule plans to conduct outreach to borough residents. If an agreement is implemented, eligible residents and businesses would automatically be enrolled unless they opt out, and local suppliers will continue to bill them directly regardless of their choice. Meanwhile, customers would still be offered a collection of choices, including some more “price-driven” options, he added

Councilor Terri Fadem pointed out that the recent survey conducted by the nascent Climate Action Committee could help indicate Hellertonians’ interest in renewable energy. Her colleague Liz Thompson suggested that the results of the CAC’s March 13 Town Hall meeting should also be considered before the council signs a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Joule.

Ultimately, council President Thomas Rieger agreed that the borough should conduct deeper research regarding its bidding policies, especially since Rowan indicated there has yet to be a municipality in Pennsylvania to implement the agreement.

Next, former Dewey Fire Company President Robert Kudera gave a presentation regarding the restoration of the department’s original gray silk banner, intending to eventually donate it to the Sigal Museum in Easton.

The “valuable piece of Hellertown history,” which Kudera said dates back to the fire company’s founding in 1898, has sat in storage for decades and will cost approximately $9,600 to restore. Dewey has already donated $1,000, and a private donor gave another $500, he said.

Mayor David Heintzelman suggested partnering with local businesses to help fundraise, adding, “come hell or highwater, this is something that we need to do… this is priceless.”

Borough Manager Cathy Hartranft also offered to help Kudera apply for two grant opportunities, and Rieger added that using the borough’s network, including its social media and email list, to solicit donations “doesn’t cost us anything.”

Finally, the council discussed an outstanding invoice from Pioneer Pole Building for the public works building on Northampton Street. Nearly $45,000 has remained withheld due to unfinished and faulty construction, including issues with the operation of the facility’s bay doors.

Solicitor Michael Corierre said he spoke to an official with Pioneer, who brokered an onsite appearance from the manufacturer of the doors that have been giving the department and its Director Barry Yonney such trouble.

Ultimately, although Yonney said Pioneer has been more responsive than in the past, the council voted to pay only $22,000 of the remaining balance, since as of that afternoon, multiple doors were still malfunctioning.

Press photo by Chris Haring The March 6 Hellertown Council meeting covered a variety of topics, including energy sources for residents, restoring the original, 125 year-old Dewey Fire Co. banner, and more.