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Lavallette Solves Long-Standing Water, Electricity Issues

Lavallette water tower. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Lavallette water tower. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Electricity and water may not mix, but Lavallette officials said this week that two issues surrounding the borough’s two utility systems have both been solved.

Clean Energy Fairness

With regard to electricity, the borough council on Monday night unanimously adopted a new ordinance that sets a rate for which customers who generate their own energy are compensated. Lavallette is one of a tiny handful of towns in New Jersey that operates its own electrical utility separate from the major power purveyors. That normally works to the benefit of residents, however the installations of solar arrays and wind turbines have complicated things a bit, forcing the borough to take on the responsibility of managing an influx of power it did not pre-purchase.

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The new ordinance sets a defined rate based on the borough’s cost of energy.

“This makes sure that any excess generation that a customer would push back into our system gets reimbursed at the same rate as we would have bought it at wholesale,” said Councilman James Borowski said.

The wholesale price of energy differs from the “retail” price seen on electric bills since it takes into account multiple factors.

“There’s a discussion that occurs philosophically,” Borowski explained. “If we paid people what we charged them, it doesn’t account for the wires up in the air, the manpower, everything above the energy itself.”

Where’s the Water Coming From?

A nagging issue in nearly every coastal community in Ocean County in recent years has been large sewerage bills levied by the Ocean County Utilities Authority.

Though Lavallette and other communities either pump their own water or have an agreement with a water purveyor (Lavallette operates a municipal system), sewerage is handled by the county utilities authority. Raw sewage is pumped off the island to treatment centers on the mainland – but the amount of raw water treated in recent years has spiraled upward to levels never seen before. While a certain portion of this phenomenon can be attributed to a larger year-round population, much of it was blamed on water intrusion into sanitary sewer lines, leading to higher cost calculations by the county that were imposed on the borough.

This year, the majority of those overages have been eliminated.

Borough Administrator Robert Brice said the latest correspondence from the county shows the borough’s overage last year dropped to $25,000 from $80,000 in the last payment period.

“That’s about half the year, and we’re hoping to continue and eventually pay no excess fee,” Brice said.

The borough took on a project to inspect and repair its sewer pipelines with the goal of lessening intrusion. The inspections involve infrared cameras and other optical systems making passes before hard repairs are applied.

“Public Works went out and identified certain areas they thought were problematic,” said Brice, adding that some properties were dumping water directly into the sewer system regardless of its source.

“We remedied that, and did some more repairs last summer,” he said.

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