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Editorial: Study the power company issue

Thursday, October 20, 2005

For a city with a type-A personality like Cambridge, the City Council's proposal to form a municipal electrical company makes sense.

City residents have for years been plagued with frequent power outages, which prove not only inconvenient but also costly to small businesses. Additionally, residents have had to deal with the cumbersome NSTAR customer service system, which is rarely as responsive as one would hope.

A municipal electrical company would likely go a long way to alleviate some of these headaches. Cambridge residents gripe about a lot of things, but a city unresponsive to complaints is not one of them. In general, potholes are filled in a timely fashion and since the city has taken over the maintenance of streetlights, there are fewer bulbs waiting to be replaced.

City Manager Bob Healy judiciously pointed out that a feasibility study could cost the city $500,000. But in a city with close to $50 million in free cash, that is hardly a deterrent. If there is a chance the city could open the first municipal electric company since Calvin Coolidge was president, we owe it to ourselves to spend the money to research it.