Will NStar Ever Stop Sucking?

Power LinesPower Lines by Gus Thomson via Flickr

Just when you thought it was safe to praise NStar for its relatively quick repair of suburban power lines damaged by yesterday’s storm, the state’s biggest power supplier steps in it once again. This time, as the Globe reports today, the company is clear cutting trees in residential neighborhoods to prevent, what else, them trees from falling on them power lines. NStar, why are you making it so hard to like you?

We should be celebrating electricity and the 100th anniversary of the invention of the air conditioner, not sitting around in dark or staring out of stump-dotted backyards enjoying a fresh new view of towering transmission lines. According to the Globe, NStar is about to take a mower to a 17-mile-long right-of-way between Southborough and West Roxbury. To be clear, the company owns this land, it just forgets it has neighbors. If corporations are people, this one is like Mr. T, and we’re the pitiable fools.

Anyway, we’re not asking for much — well, Mayor Menino asked you to repay companies for money lost during the March blackout (quoth NStar: denied!) — but the rest of us just want reliable power and a lot less b.s. Here’s how to do it.

1. Stop giving such terrible time estimates for repair. Didn’t you learn your lesson in the Back Bay Blackout earlier this year? Apparently not. People want to know when the power will be back on, not when you hope the power will be back on. Take your time estimates and double them, then add six hours.

2. Stop being bad neighbors. We can appreciate the bind you’re in with not wanting trees to fall on your lines, but did you really — like, really — have to clear cut to accomplish that? The Globe reports that some trees were standing for 20 years. How could this be the first time you’ve addressed this since the H.W. Bush Administration?

3. Own up to your mistakes. You think taking your licks is bad for P.R. But you know what’s bad for P.R.? Denying that anything you bungled in any of the last few bungling operations was your fault.

Look, we’re going to continue to suck up your juice for the foreseeable future. We’re addicts; we’re fiends. But that doesn’t mean you have to treat us like expendable, always-short junkies.

  • http://www.massmunichoice.org Patrick Mehr

    NStar will not “stop sucking” — as you put it — as long as it enjoys a permanent monopoly as it now does because of a century-old, now obsolete State law.

    Sadly, House Speaker DeLeo and House Ways & Means Chairman Dempsey just decided to kill the Muni-Choice bill (for the 6th time in 12 years). NStar is far better at lobbying on Beacon Hill than at keeping the lights on or the trees standing.

    The Muni-Choice bill would have ended NStar’s monopoly by allowing the formation of new municipal utilities in Massachusetts.

    Municipal utilities charge less than NStar for the same electricity, restore power faster after storms, and care about trees — in Concord, the municipal utility moves wires underground, so trees don’t suffer at all.

    Details at http://massmunichoice.org

    Patrick Mehr
    Massachusetts Alliance for Municipal Electric Choice

  • agingcynic

    And the towns with municipal power (cf. Taunton, Norwood, et al) are islands of economic health within the current recession. Outcomes matter.