BOSTON – Fitchburg’s new legislative delegation is proposing a law that would allow cities like Fitchburg to buy existing power companies that provide subpar services and charge customers exorbitant fees, according to a statement from state lawmaker Michael Kushmerek and the senator. John Cronin state.
Kushmerek, D-Fitchburg) and Cronin, D-Lunenburg, introduced legislation last week to ease the burden on municipalities to purchase public services infrastructure from a private provider at a fair market value, according to the statement.
“Currently, if a private electricity company cannot provide reliable services and reasonable prices to customers, there is no recourse for cities and towns. This project offers a realistic option to convert the utility system into a more accessible municipal system, ”said Kushmerek.
The proposed law was first introduced by former state representative and current mayor of Fitchburg, Stephen L. DiNatale, D-Fitchburg, after the 2008 ice storm left local communities without power for weeks. Unitil drew widespread criticism of the level of service provided to local residents, according to the statement.
“Our future economic growth depends on utilities and electricity at fair prices. It is important to create options for the region to ensure that our public services are more reasonably priced and have the ability to exist in a competitive market, ”said Cronin.
Under existing state law, cities like Fitchburg may have an electric company and there are currently 20 municipal electric companies in Massachusetts, according to the statement.
“There is an artificial barrier,” said Kushmerek, “because underperforming utility companies may refuse to accept a fair market offer to buy their existing equipment. This bill aims to fix that and put authority back in the hands of municipalities and their taxpayers. “
“The senator and I realized that many residents and businesses, forced to pay these astronomically high electricity rates, are suffering. Especially in
in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic, our bill aims to provide taxpayers with the relief they so desperately need, ”said Kushmerek.