Could Chelmsford Leave National Grid For Another Local Power Company?

You asked, now Chelmsford Patch answers.


Over the past few months, and years for that matter, local and state officials have not been incredibly pleased with the performance of National Grid, and one Chelmsford Patch reader asked us if the town could drop National Grid for nearby local utility company like Littleton Electric, Light and Water or the .

The answer? Yes, but it's not going to happen.

Why won't it happen? Because in order for a switch to occur, the town would have to purchase all of the current infrastructure owned by National Grid, which according to town officials we talked to would be an astronomical figure, if they want to sell at all *.

Two of Chelmsford's State Representatives, Jim Arciero and Cory Atkins, are co-sponsors on legislation to help boost the creation of municipal lighting companies in the Commonwealth this year in the legislature.


* - Page 3

Pat February 07, 2013 at 01:30 PM
PLEASE! PLEASE! Consider Littleton Electric! Their rates are considerably less than National Grid and their service is excellent! They have power back in no time! I'd be happy to join townspeople in campaigning for this. I have a friend in Littleton that I have compared bills with over the past five years and the difference is amazing! Their delivery and standardized rates are minuscule, if not nonexistent.
Pat February 07, 2013 at 01:32 PM
Or at least give us the choice, like they do in New Hampshire.
Fred Oleary February 07, 2013 at 03:26 PM
Wow, that study you linked to ( http://www.mass.gov/eea/docs/doer/publications/doer-municipal-utility-rpt.pdf ) is actually one of the best produced public documents I've seen. Thanks for finding and linking it. Makes a number of unavoidable points about the feasibility of something everyone throws around anytime power goes out. Bottom line, the legal protection of property ownership and the plain economics of funding a new municipality don't add up to keeping costs even reasonably close to where they are now, not to mention that could lead to worse levels of staffing/service (especially when the cost needed to adequately staff AND meet higher debt burdens would by necessity be translated into property tax increase requests). Money would be better off being spent addressing issues that don't have an answer (albeit an imperfect one). And if we're going to throw money to replicate something we already have - might as well look at how we could improve commercial property & associated economic centers to attract employers, their employees and their money. Seems like trying to buy our way into the energy business merely to get better service would be a case of "Reinventing the wheel in order to spite our face." TO mash two phrases. This is what we call "a learning experience you might not benefit from." Like Acton deciding it didn't want town sewers back in the 70s....
Fred Oleary February 07, 2013 at 03:41 PM
Pat, how is Littleton Electric going to transmit their energy to us? They need transmission lines and room for their delivery. If you truly want them as an option then Chelmsford Residents need to understand how that could happen. It's not like the town can just agree and it happens. It would be helpful to illustrate what needs to happen so you can start to get people motivated. If you aren't suggesting we buy out the infrastructure from National Grid then how do we carve out space for another provider? To me it's unclear, but I'd love to learn.
Donna Reed February 07, 2013 at 04:07 PM
Fred...all of your points are excellent, and in my opinion, answer any questions or doubts any may have had. As the story explains to us, first of all, National Grid may not even be interested in selling their equipment..( and gee, why would they?). Myhusband and I lived in Woburn for years, and got our power from what was then Edison...( not sure of their new name). We had FAR more power loss issues down there than there's EVER been up here. When there are ice storms and snow storms, these are acts of God/Mother Nature....and there is only so much that CAN be done. I think they do the best they can in those situations, and I think we would be hard-pressed to find any company that could provide service any more efficiently, differently, or with fewer interruptions than what we presently have. It sounds to me lilke "Littleton Power" would be a small company, servicing a small amount of customers......and what if they arent be big enough to handle Littleton AND Chelmsford efficiently...
Pat February 07, 2013 at 04:42 PM
Fred, I don't pretend to have all the answers, but perhaps National Grid could 'donate' the infrastructure to Chelmsford as fines paid for their inadequate service (to say the least) over the past several years - (humor here). However, when I look at two very similar bills with the only consistent difference being the standardized fees of $75-$100 from National Grid to Littleton Electric's nominal fee of approximately $10-$20, I seriously wonder what the National Grid conglomerate does with these fees, when Littleton Electric's small electric company can do the same work, maintenance and repairs for a fraction of the cost. Donna, Littleton Electric covers other municipalities, one being Boxford. I am interested in this from a cost perspective - my standardized fees have risen tremendously over the past 25 years, particularly in the past five years. My friend in Littleton bragged constantly about his low, low electric bill and enlightened me to the differences.
Phil stanway February 07, 2013 at 04:56 PM
Two gerbils on a wheel are more reliable…. Figure I will lose power by midday Friday and be out till next weds…uggg
Pat February 07, 2013 at 05:06 PM
Phil, my son has five big, fat hamsters. Interested?!?! They run fast and have boundless energy. Good luck tomorrow; I have my lanterns, blankets, and several good books ready. :-)
Donna Reed February 07, 2013 at 07:05 PM
C'mon guys..we are talking here about something that hasn't even happened yet...and we are bickering at each other about hamsters and gerbils on wheels. We have had snowstorms where we DIDN'T lose power....that TOO is a possibility. Let's wait and see what happens...we may be getting ourselves all worked up for nothing. Who knows..maybe on Monday, we'll be laughing at ourselves and our "fears"... And Pat, with all due respect...yes, your friend may well be bragging to you about her low electricity costs...but I'd be MORE than willing to bet that she is NOT bragging to you about her school system, or the Littleton Library, the playgrounds, or their Little League, youth basketball and softball programs. All towns have something to offer it's residents....but I still think Chelmsford offers a little more than some of the rest. And if we do happen to lose power, heck..the meteorologists are calling for two feet of snow or MORE,, with possibly 60+ mph winds. Stock up on water, candles, blankets and we'll get through it..just like Littleton, Billerica, Tewksbury and everyone else in this area will. And HOPEFULLY better than they did in Shirley and Leominster and all the towns out in that area did a few winters ago.
An Lai February 07, 2013 at 08:41 PM
Strongly agree.
An Lai February 07, 2013 at 08:53 PM
Isn't Nat Grid owned by a British Co? Profits are key for them, consumers comfort may not be. Cost of energy and reliable service are key for the consumer. Also when Cape wind farm goes online(or maybe even before) NG has already said customer charges will increase.
Pat February 07, 2013 at 09:10 PM
Donna, I don't know how this became so convoluted with school systems, playgrounds, libraries, and such, but I have been discussing an alternative on a public forum with a little humor thrown in along the way. I don't often lose power and don't have many complaints with National Grid except their standardized fees. I have lived in Chelmsford for over 25 years and obviously like it here. We are all stocked up and ready to enjoy the blizzard. Now if we could just get a Whole Foods or Trader Joes, we'd be all set. Everyone stay safe.
Donna Reed February 07, 2013 at 09:51 PM
Pat..I too, was throwing a little humor in there. And we have lived here for 37 years, we like it too like it here. Nothing got "convoluted" into anything.....you mentioned the costs of your electric bills going up, and I was just trying to point out that living in Chelmsford isn't all that bad, despite the rising costs of utilities.... Back in 1978, we paid $40,000. for our house. Our electric bill was $30.00 a month. Given the way the cost of living has escalated, I don't think National Grid has been that big of a problem, and all things considered, I think we get a decent enough bang for our buck.
Donna Reed February 07, 2013 at 09:53 PM
Andrew...at one time, after writing a comment, you had the opportunity to proof-read your comments, and fix any spelling errors, etc. Why can we no longer do that?
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) February 07, 2013 at 11:21 PM
Not sure. I can check with HQ on that. It'd definitely be useful. In the meantime, I can delete comments you'd like to re-submit with spelling issues if you'd like.


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