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Letter: Bill must pass before increases start
Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Minuteman's editorial "Why not give munis a chance?" (Sept. 29) was right that "[t]he time is now for [...] Lexington residents to take control of the future of utilities."

In October, my NStar bill was $137.57 for 929 kWh of electricity. For the same electricity, a resident paid $94.26 in Belmont, $93.14 in Concord and $82.79 in Wellesley. The municipal utilities in these three towns charge 30-40 percent less than NStar charges in Lexington, and in addition they experience fewer power outages.

Rep. Jay Kaufman filed with 40 legislators a bill to allow new munis in Massachusetts ( which is endorsed by the Boston Globe, MASSPIRG, Mass Energy, the Mass Climate Action Network, the Mass Municipal Association and over 100 cities and towns (including Lexington) that represent almost 90 percent of NStar's current service territory. The bill allows us to make a choice - it doesn't force one particular solution on us.

This is surely the basis of the free market which is considered so important. Why is the state Legislature taking a business-as-usual attitude of inaction? Does the Legislature take NStar's desire to preserve its monopoly more to heart than the possibility for Lexington residents to save money? Does the Legislature represent the people who vote, or only the corporations who lobby?

It is important that the state Legislature pass Jay Kaufman's bill before the substantial price increases planned by NStar take effect in January (Mass Electric, the other large utility in the state, just raised its rates by 27.5 percent). Lexington must explore whether a new muni can do as well as Belmont, Concord or Wellesley. If we were to make that choice, my annual electricity costs would be cut by somewhere around $600, more than an override adds to my taxes!

Julian Cole
Reed Street