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Power down under

Friday, January 6, 2012
NStar claims that moving wires underground is prohibitively expensive, but that is not the case if undergrounding is done right (“
Gov hits NStar on outages,” Dec. 22). In Europe, many electric distribution lines are underground: In Belgium and Holland, almost 100 percent; in Germany, 75 percent; in France, 33 percent.

In Concord, which has its own municipal utility, not NStar, half of the local network is already underground. The Concord muni spends $600,000 per mile to bury 1.5 miles of wires each year, but since electric rates are 40 percent lower in Concord than NStar charges, undergrounding is free for Concord electric customers, coming with the great service they get from their local muni. It is time for the Legislature to allow new munis in Massachusetts. If NStar doesn’t move wires underground, munis will.

— Patrick Mehr, Lexington

The writer is spokesman for the Massachusetts Alliance for Municipal Electric Choice.
Gov hits NStar on outages

New demand could zap Northeast Utilities merger

By Greg Turner
Thursday, December 22, 2011
The Patrick administration has lengthened its list of demands on the proposed merger of Nstar and Northeast Utilities with a request to factor in their responses to recent storms that sparked widespread outages and outrage.

Photo by Stuart Cahill
UNDER PRESSURE: NStar is under more pressure from the Patrick administration over its response to storms.

State energy officials want the Department of Public Utilities to reopen hearings on the oft-delayed deal, arguing the companies’ responses to Tropical Storm Irene in August and a freak snowstorm in October “appear to demonstrate the inadequacies of their current emergency restoration plans.”