Eversource blames Laconia for jump in Weirs utilities
By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — A spokesperson for Eversource has claimed that the cost of burying power lines Lakeside Avenue at The Weirs increased because the city asked the utility to complete the project March 15, not May as originally planned.
On Monday The New Hampshire Union Leader reported Kaitlyn Woods, speaking for Eversource, to say that "on January 23 we were told that the city wanted to expedite the project and complete our work by March 15. We had to get additional estimates from outside sources in order to meet the expedited timeline." She explained that Eversource originally planned to do the work itself, but after the city asked to expedite the project put the work out to bid to subcontractors.
Initially, Eversource estimated the cost of designing and constructing the project at $311,316. However, Eversource informed the city last month that the cost would not exceed $786,000, a difference of $474,684. When the City Council met last week, Wes Anderson, director of Public Works, said that after reviewing the numbers he tentatively calculated the overage was closer to $431,000, which still placed the cost of the project at more than twice the initial estimate.
City Manager Myers declined to respond directly to the statement from Eversource. He said that he and other city officials met with representatives of the utility last week "to dig into the numbers and consider other issues." He added that several outstanding questions remained and he expected more information would be forthcoming. "I was surprised to see the remarks in the newspaper when we hadn't tied up the loose ends," Myers said.
Likewise, Mayor Ed Engler said that newspaper report was "the first we've heard of this." He was especially troubled that Eversource informed the city of the cost overrun only after the project was nearly three-quarters complete. "Even more confusing," he added, is that what I took away from our last meeting was that the detailed cost estimate presented by Eversource last October was based on them contracting the work out. If that is true," he continued, "then they knew last fall they were not going to do the job themselves, that they knew from the beginning they would contract the work." He said "We weren't told that Eversource would not do the work" and wondered when the utility solicited bids for the project.
Myers said that city officials will address the issue at special meeting of the City Council, which representatives of Eversource are expected to attend, on Thursday beginning at 2 p.m.
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