As the country gets hit by a winter storm hearing concerning Unitil and their performance or lack thereof:
The Department of Public Utilities is investigating how Unitil and the state’s three other utility companies prepared for and responded to last month’s storm. The storm at one point knocked power out to all of Unitil’s Massachusetts customers and left some residents without power for up to
Wong said after the hearing that Unitil has been “incompetent” in their preparation and response to the storm. Wong said her singular focus throughout the storm was to ensure the protection of life, but now, she said, she’s ready to talk about Unitil’s response.
Individual residents had plenty to say:
But what angered residents the most was that after weeks of sporadic communications from Unitil, many residents said they received electric bills this month that were higher than usual.
Mary Ingemi, an 84-year-old widow who lives in Fitchburg, said she lost power for a couple of days, then it was erratic. But the biggest surprise was a $1,400 bill for December. She waved the bill at the commissioners. “I’m not going to pay it,” she said causing the crowd to erupt in cheers and applause.
A pretty high bill for a person who lives alone, doesn’t have a computer, cable or even a cell phone. By an odd coincidence Unitil was at her door today to replace her meter. (Full disclosure; Hi Mom!)
She’s in better shape than this lady:
Fitchburg resident Mary Patricia Haxton waited several hours to testify before the commission, and when she did, after 10 p.m., she said her house remains without power.
“This is day 48,” she said her voice cracking.
The elected representatives want Unitil out:
State Rep. Stephen DiNatale, D-Fitchburg, garnered a standing ovation during his statement to the state officials.
“You folks, the DPU, must bring the regulatory hammer down on this company,” he said.
DiNatale reiterated his call to oust Unitil as the city’s power company.
“You must set our people free,” he said.
I’ve known Steve for years and like him, I’ve had my political differences with him in the past but you’ve never seen a rep shine as he has during the storm and its aftermath.
City counselors were rather emphatic:
Ward 6 Councilor Jody Joseph submitted as evidence a petition asking to oust Unitil that has been signed by, he said, 1,500 residents.
Annie DeMartino said she’s been trying to get rid of Unitil for 15 years.
“What this company has done to Fitchburg is raped us,” she said.
That front row must have been a nasty place for the Unitil guys to sit. If we can get another company in here there will be more rejoicing then when the Knights of the round table had to eat Robin’s minstrels.