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Norwich utilities board chairman resigns

Norwich — The long-time chairman of the Board of Public Utilities Commissioners/Sewer Authority resigned last week, citing personal reasons and time commitments to his family and professional career.

James Sullivan, a 16-year member of the board that oversees Norwich Public Utilities, submitted his resignation Oct. 9 to NPU General Manager and acting City Manager John Bilda.

The City Council will receive the one-page letter Monday.

In his letter, Sulllivan said he leaves at a time when NPU senior leadership is “in good hands,” and with “so many dedicated professionals throughout the entire organization.”

Sullivan said Friday for the past several years he has been managing his time and energy on his professional career — he is principal of the business consulting firm, JMS Consulting LLC — his family, along with his service on the utilities board.

He said he needs to focus on his family and career at this point.

Bilda and Mayor Deberey Hinchey thanked Sullivan for his service and said he deserves credit for leading the utility in many recent upgrade projects and expansions.

NPU is working on a $100 million upgrade to the city sewage treatment plant and also is a partner in two large solar energy generation projects

Sullivan also served as chairman of the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative board, the entity that includes all municipally owned power utilities in the state.

During Sullivan's tenure on the Norwich board, NPU won voter approval for three major natural gas expansion projects totaling $16.5 million for Norwich customers plus plans for a $2 million expansion into Preston if developments come to fruition at the former Norwich Hospital property.

“I have enjoyed our work together,” Sullivan wrote in the letter to Bilda, “and take great pride in the tangible results we have produced for the city of Norwich and its utility customers.”

The utility board also received criticism in recent years for enacting significant rate hikes in its water and sewer divisions.

A recent electricity rate hike also erased rate reductions put in place in 2012, bringing rates back to that year's level.

Sullivan stressed during the rate hike votes that NPU's revenue funds a high quality utility business that routinely wins praise for response to daily operations and emergency situations, such as major storms.

“NPU is such a great asset to the community, in my view, because of each and every one of the professional staff, the ratepayers and the public that support it,” Sullivan said Friday.

c.bessette@theday.com

Twitter: @Bessettetheday

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