boston globe West

NStar is wrong on municipal utilities

October 20, 2005

Municipal utility officials were shocked but not surprised at comments by an NStar spokesman in a recent Globe West article explaining why municipal electric utility rates are lower.

Shocked, because his comments -- especially regarding municipal utility support of the regional transmission system -- reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of how the power grid and municipal utilities operate.

And not surprised at his untrue comments about municipal utility services, because there are several towns in NStar's territory considering creating municipal utilities due to their dissatisfaction with NStar service.

These are the facts:

Municipal utilities, like NStar and all other Massachusetts utilities, purchase transmission service through New England's Regional Transmission Organization. The cost of that service includes significant charges for maintenance and upgrade of the transmission system. It is absurd to claim that municipal utilities do not support this crucial system, or that the grid somehow would be threatened if there were more municipal utilities.

Due to their nonprofit structure, municipal utilities do not pay property taxes, but most provide their towns with large payments in lieu of taxes, some of which exceed their tax-based equivalent.

Municipal utilities offer a variety of discounts to their customers.

All 40 municipal utilities in the state provide energy-efficiency advice and service.

Municipal utility service is local, nonprofit, and personal. This results in many other benefits -- too many to list here -- and we're proud of public power, a century-old tradition in Massachusetts.

President, Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Co.