Aldermen Seek State Help to Resolve NSTAR Issues
Board members urged residents, NSTAR customers and business owners to attend a Feb. 29 public meeting with the power company.
The Board of Aldermen voted unanimously Thursday night to investigate repeated power outages in Magoun Square and press NSTAR—potentially with the help of the state—to resolve that problem and others.
Members of the board’s Committee on Public Utilities and Works will meet Feb. 29 with the electric company to discuss “a whole host of issues,” said Ward 5 Alderman Sean O’Donovan. They will address the continued outages near 470 Medford St., low-hanging wires and ongoing repairs in West Somerville, according to the agenda. During the meeting, aldermen also plan to write a letter, under the guidance of the city’s chief law officer, to the state’s Department of Public Utilities to complain about NSTAR’s service.
“Unfortunately, the way utilities are being provided in Somerville sometimes,” said the board’s vice president, William White, “it seems like we would become a third-world country in the minds of these utilities.”
Somerville's ongoing issues with NSTAR
The city temporarily halted work permits to NSTAR in December after officials said they were fed up with continuous outages, broken streetlights, double poles, faulty street repairs and what was perceived as a lack of responsiveness.
Donovan acknowledged that NSTAR has fixed transformers and other issues, “but the problems continue,” he said.
“What NSTAR doesn’t seem to ever understand is that they’re toying with peoples’ lives, causing people to be late for interviews, causing people to be late for work, causing people to miss very important family occasions,” he said.
“You can’t just cancel your service and go to National Grid because if you don’t live in that part of the city that they cover, it’s one or the other. So we’re dealing with a monopoly. I don’t know if we’re ever going to get this resolved because of the monopolization of this type of industry.”
Aldermen suggest new strategies to steadying supply of electricity
To reduce the length and frequency of future power outages, Alderman at Large John Connolly recommended that Somerville consider running its own power plant like Belmont and other Massachusetts municipalities do.
Meanwhile, Ward 7 Alderman Robert Trane said that he would like to ask the state’s Department of Public Utilities to tell the board if it has fined any utilities companies for delayed or unsatisfactory repairs.
“It’s time that we in the city take a more aggressive stance and start going after these utilities and make sure that they’re living up to their responsibilities,” he said.
Ward 2 Alderman Maryann Heuston and other board members encouraged residents to attend the Feb. 29 meeting.