The Town of Leverett’s Municipal Light Plant (LMLP) was established by two Town Meeting votes in 2011 to oversee and manage the high-speed fiber Internet and phone-over-Internet system that Leverett then voted to fund in 2012. The LMLP Board was appointed in April 2015 and construction of the LeverettNet system was completed in the summer of 2015. A kick-off event was held in October 2015. Since its establishment, the LMLP Board has met regularly to address needs and questions that arise with the system’s operation and from being the first community in the state to have an MLP created solely to provide fiber service. The LMLP is a department of the town, with distinct authority provided by General Laws Chapter 164, that allows the Board to operate in a business environment. In addition to oversight and general management functions, an MLP Fiber-To-The-Premises (FTTP) entity requires provision for maintenance of the network as well as for Internet and telephone services over that network. The Leverett MLP has chosen to manage these maintenance and services functions through agreements with separate contractors. Crocker Communications provides Internet Service Provider (ISP) Services through a contract which expires in March 2017. Holyoke Gas and Electric provides overall Network Operations functions, including dispatch for most maintenance.
Achievements of the LMLP since the Summer of 2015:
- Created an informational website (lmlp.leverettnet.net) with FAQs, news, pricing, and forms. Also provided a link to it from the Town of Leverett website
- Established policies for seasonal service; new connections; subscriber caused maintenance; new installations; homeowner’s responsibilities; and bill collecting procedures under MGL 164
- Created a secure website that integrates contractors’ confidential Methods of Procedures with those of the LMLP
- Implemented daily, weekly, and monthly monitoring and reporting from the ISP
- Added 1GB symmetrical backhaul [“middle mile”] in December 2015, for a total of 2GB symmetrical backhaul
- Secured insurance for the network infrastructure and LMLP
- Researched telehealth options and sponsored a telehealth informational session
- Created a financial model for LMLP operations, which is evaluated every six months
- Held fiber safety workshops for municipal safety personnel
- Hired and trained local electricians to do onsite outage diagnoses and ONT repairs
- Secured a contract with Collins Electric for fiber line repairs
- Received a Massachusetts Municipal Association Mass Innovation Award in November 2015
- Offered network status information and notices through the Town Newsletter
- Facilitated the integration of the Town’s Tree Warden and Eversource tree trimming programs for ongoing aerial fiber protection
- Completed subscriber satisfaction and telehealth surveys
- Appointed Marjorie McGinnis as LMLP Manager
- Established policy for and procured stocks of spare parts and fiber
- Resolved a contract through HG&E for Calix (manufacturer) support for Leverett equipment
- Supported Crocker Communications in a subscriber expansion marketing program
- Applied ownership and notification labeling to all residential ONT terminals and underground conduits
- Executed a Request for Proposals to identify an ISP which resulted in a 3-year agreement with OTT Communications offering lower subscriber pricing beginning in March 2017.
The LMLP also worked with legislators and the Commonwealth to receive all of Leverett’s portion of the network build cost from state funds for Internet expansion. Any excess funds from the build account will be utilized to offset the Town’s municipal bond payments for the first several years of the bond.
The LMLP Board members have voluntarily participated in many meetings in Leverett and throughout Massachusetts and other New England states in an effort to help other towns plan for fiber networks to bring high speed Internet to their residents.
The LMLP, like all light plants in Massachusetts, operates on a calendar year basis. The LMLP retains an accounting firm, which prepared an audit for the end of calendar years 2015 and 2016 to ensure that it is operating as required and is financially meeting expectations. The ending balance in 2015 showed an operating balance of $23,297. The ending balance for 2016 showed that $158,962.89 has been set aside for future replacements of the electronics and fiber, and an operating balance of $118,743.87. A total of $195,628.53 was spent by the LMLP in 2016 on the network operator, maintenance, insurance, pole license agreements, bonding, electricity for the point of presence buildings (POPs), auditor, legal advice, and general administration. The LMLP is managed by volunteers and does not have any staff or pay any salaries.
LeverettNet currently has 667 subscribers out of 813 households.
The LMLP meets every other Tuesday morning in Town Hall at 10:00 am. They also can be reached by contacting Marjorie McGinnis in Town Hall on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursday and Fridays, and by phone at 548-9699, or by email at email@example.com.
Please also visit the LMLP website at lmlp.leverettnet.net for updates and information.
Leverett Municipal Light Plant Board
Denzel Hankinson, Chair