5. Problem: Utility companies would not provide any
pricing estimates to home builders for their upcoming
developments until final approval of plans by
municipality and engineering was 100% complete. This
often disrupts home builder project pro formas when costs
Result: Eversource has agreed to provide electrical and gas
pricing estimates within 10-15 days of submission of plans.
This estimate should be within +/- 25% of the final costs, and
will assist with project budgeting prior to municipal approval.
Likewise, National Grid is providing the electrical pricing sheet
noted in #3 above as an aid to estimating jobs, and will complete
engineering and pricing of gas installations prior to municipal
6. Problem: Lack of sequencing on the construction plan
for developments. Our members have had contracts drawn
by the utility companies based on unrealistic assumptions
about how the homes and/or condominiums would be built.
This misunderstanding has caused delay and uncertainties as
units are brought on-line.
Result: The HBRAMA Utility Subcommittee has continually
emphasized the need for direct communication with utility
engineers to eliminate confusion on our developments.
Both National Grid and Eversource have agreed to make
assigned engineers available at “Pre-Design” meetings so that
the utilities can understand potential site issues to be taken
into consideration for the design, along with the anticipated
schedule and pace of development. These meetings should
give our members access to key utility decision-makers, and
ensure that work is done in a smooth and efficient manner that
is consistent with your development plan. The meetings can,
when appropriate, concurrently address electrical and natural
7. Problem: There is no vehicle to quickly track the status
of work orders with the utilities. Developers and electricians
must repeatedly make telephone calls to assigned service
representatives at the utilities.
Result: National Grid is working with HBRAMA subcommittee
members to introduce a website portal by the second quarter
of 2019 which will provide benchmarks and due dates on
electrical service installations. Once operable, National Grid will
begin work on a similar portal for gas installations. Eversource is
likewise using “Salesforce” software to introduce a similar portal
for the fourth quarter of 2018 for gas installations. These systems
will allow for on-line payments to speed up the work order
8. Problem: There were no public benchmarks for cycle
time performance (job completion data). As a consequence,
home builders would experience large variances in turnaround
time for both simple and more complex work orders.
Result: After agreeing to common definitions, both Eversource
and National Grid report quarterly to the DPU on cycle time
goals and performance. For instance, National Grid has a five
day performance target range for simple requests for residential
electrical service. It reported an average time of four days in over
the first four months of the year. Eversource reported seven days
for the first four months, with six days in April. These metrics are
monitored by HBRAMA and its Utility Subcommittee.
For those who do not understand the benefits of membership
to our association, one need not look any further than our
progress with the utility companies. These changes will save
home builders both time and money. We are grateful that the
utilities, after decades of bad feelings, are working hand-in-hand
with us to implement needed changes. And we appreciate the
attention Commissioner O’Connor has given our concerns after
years of neglect under prior administrations.
Let us lastly thank the HBRAMA volunteers who have dedicated
countless hours to this effort. Our National Grid team includes
Jeff Rhuda of Symes Associates; Brian Lussier of Comfort Homes,
Inc.; Marc Ginsburg of Marc P. Ginsburg & Sons; Kevin O’Brien and
Kevin O’Brien, Jr. of O’Brien Homes, Inc.; Carl Foley of Botany Bay
Properties; Nick Meninno of Meninno Construction; and Mike
Duffany of Duffany Builders. Our Eversource team includes Bill
Marsh and Don Poyant of Eastward Companies; Ben Stevens of
Trask, Inc; Charles Aggouras of GFC Development; Scott Colwell
of Colwell Homes; Fred Tonsberg of Stonecroft Properties; Scott
Micille of Toll Brothers; and Jeff Rhuda of Symes Associates. Of
course, HBRAMA Counsel Ben Fierro has been an attendee at all
meetings, and he has provided special assistance with the DPU.
We are encouraging the utility companies to make presentations
at our local association meetings to share more details about
these important changes in our relationship with them.
Russ Leonard is a principal at Leonard Electric, Inc. of Lowell. He has been a member of the Northeast Builders and Remodelers
Association for 36 years and has been President of that local association. Russ was heralded as a “Legend of the Industry” in 2013
by the State Association.
Mark Leff is Senior Vice President for Construction Lending at Salem Five Bank. He is a member of the Northeast Builders and
Remodelers Association and served as Public Policy Committee Chairman from 2001 through 2007 for the state and was State
President in 2007-2008. Mark was awarded the “Legend of the Industry” award by HBRAMA in 2017.