Standard Times


We're taken to the cleaners

Regarding the article in Sunday's newspaper about the rate increases being felt by SouthCoast residents in their electric bills, I am not sure where the writer got the cost per kilowatt hour for NStar but the writer was just a little off.

Since I and just about anyone else who uses electricity in the NStar service area would calculate the cost of a kilowatt hour by taking the total bill and dividing by the kilowatts used it is less than truthful to use a figure of 11.206 cents per kilowatt hour. In my particular case, my April bill was $167.06. The number of kilowatt hours used was 850. By my math, that comes to 19.65 cents per kilowatt hour — about 80 percent higher than the cost quoted by the reporter. Sure, NStar likes to leave out all of the fees they charge for this, that and the other thing, but we still have to pay them and it is part of the cost of buying power.

Let's face it! People in the NStar service area are being taken to the cleaners and have been for years.

By the way, my son lives in Holden, where they have an electric cooperative. His rate for electricity is less than half of what we pay.


Electric costs can be lower

In regard to the Sunday article, "Surging bills spark outrage," everyone is unhappy with rising electric costs in Massachusetts and some on the SouthCoast are even "outraged" as you stated. But travel inland a few miles to find lower bills. Customers served in the Taunton area, Lakeville, Middleborough and Mansfield are served by local municipal utilities run by town government. They pay between 15 to 20 percent less than NStar customers in the area. Amazing what a little local control can do, isn't it?

No excess profits. No inflated rates recovering tomorrow's costs before they are known. No dark curtains hiding wizards in Boston boardrooms manipulating numbers to fit the dividends required. In these towns, when electric costs rise, they meet locally and hear the whole story.

Are these thrilled energy customers? Not really. Like the others, their bills are up thanks to a convoluted energy market where speculation drives the price. But these customers are paying significantly less than their neighbors because the state Legislature wisely left their local utilities alone. They were not required to "deregulate" and continued to control the delivery and rates charged for electricity in their towns. Is there a lesson here for the rest of Massachusetts? Maybe simply that a little more control could mean a little less outrage.

SANDY RICHTER Middleborough
Editor's note: Ms. Richter is public communications manager for the Middleborough Gas & Electric Department.

Date of Publication: April 19, 2006 on Page A12