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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Around the area

Lunenburg - Legislation to be filed for town light plant

LUNENBURG — The vote to file special legislation that would allow the town to acquire its own light plant is the first in series of steps that would take years to complete — if it is done at all. But William J. Gustus, chairman of the Electric Utility Task Force, says the move will give the town leverage in dealing with Unitil.

Voters approved the proposal unanimously and with no discussion at special town meeting earlier this week.

There are about 40 municipal light plants in the state and the last one was established more than 50 years ago, said Mr. Gustus, who is also the town manager in Lynnfield.

“We did it in response to Unitil’s performance following last year’s ice storm,” he said. “There is general legislation filed to change the current law to allow it to happen, but that could die in committee. This is Lunenburg’s backup plan.”

He said town officials are aware that establishing a municipal electric company would take several years — if it proves to be financially feasible.

Mr. Gustus said residents don’t have any confidence in Unitil.

“This is not just about a municipality trying to compete with a private entity and do it safer,” he added. “It’s about public safety. Many people can’t just light a candle and get by.”