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Petition calls for new munis in Massachusetts

Posted Mar 18, 2010

Boston — On Thursday, March 18, Get-Rid-Of-Unitil and the Massachusetts Alliance for Municipal Electric Choice delivered to Rep. Barry Finegold and Sen. Michael Morrissey, co-chairs of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, a petition asking the Legislature to make new municipal electric utilities (or “munis”) possible in Massachusetts.

A total of 2,275 Massachusetts residents signed the
petition, started on Jan. 18 by Cathy Clark of Get-Rid-Of-Unitil. The petition reads: “We, the undersigned citizens of Massachusetts, respectfully request the legislature to act favorably on the municipal electric utilities choice legislation (Bills H3087 and S1527) before March 17, 2010.” 

Signatories include Gov. Deval Patrick (#2239) who wrote: “The bills under consideration are a step in the right direction and will allow residents greater local control and input into utility investment policies and decisions, services and service levels. I look forward to reviewing the final bill when it reaches my desk.”

Gubernatorial candidates Christy Mihos (#2156), Jill Stein (#2165), Tim Cahill (#2227) and Grace Ross (#2228) also signed the petition.

The 2,275 signatures are from the following communities: Lunenburg (672), Fitchburg (639), Lexington (192), Townsend (150), Cambridge (66), Ashby (44), Lancaster (36), Arlington (31), Somerville (26), Brookline (25), Boston (22), and 143 other communities (372).

Two-thirds of the signatures are from Unitil’s service area (Fitchburg, Lunenburg, Townsend, Ashby).

The muni choice legislation (bills H3087 and S1527) is now before the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, which last week voted to extend the deadline to act on the legislation from March 17 to mid-April 2010.

The legislation amends state law to make new munis possible, in addition to the 41 munis that already exist in places like Groton, Hudson, Princeton, Ashburnham, Concord, Belmont, Holyoke, Peabody and Braintree.

According to the Massachusetts Alliance for Municipal Electric Choice, munis charge less for the same electricity. In 2009, Unitil charged $102 per month for 500 kilowatt-hours of electricity, NSTAR $97, National Grid $82 and the average Massachusetts muni $70.

Get-Rid-Of-Unitil is a group of Fitchburg, Lunenburg, Townsend and Ashby residents who have come together to explore and promote effective change from their current electric utility, Unitil. For more information, contact Cathy Clark at 978-390-0544 or, or visit

The Massachusetts Alliance for Municipal Electric Choice is the alliance of over 120 cities, towns and organizations (including the Massachusetts Municipal Association, MASSPIRG and Environment Massachusetts) that support legislation to allow new munis in Massachusetts – beyond those already in existence – so that cities and towns have a choice for electricity distribution. For more information, contact Patrick Mehr at 781-367-2229 or, or visit