Thursday, April 18, 2024

As the season keeps getting colder, I am eyeing my thermostat nervously and worrying about the higher bills that Eversource announced in December. Having to choose between heating my home and an exorbitant gas bill is the latest example of corporate greed.

Eversource reported $1.1 billion in profits in the third quarter of 2021 before announcing a rate hike in December. Compare this with September’s electric and gas debt of $233 million for Eversource customers in Massachusetts; in just one quarter of 2021, Eversource nearly $900 million more than the total of their Massachusetts’ customers combined debt, and despite that – and a pandemic causing consumer obligations to pile up – is still raising prices. Utility companies should focus on providing utilities for everyone, not on maximizing profits.

A bill proposed by state Reps. Erika Uyterhoeven of Somerville, Mike Connolly of Cambridge and Lindsay Sabadosa of Northampton would enact a polluter’s fee to set up a relief fund and pay for all debts accrued from March 2020 to its enactment to investor-owned and municipal gas and electric utilities. The bill will also forbid investor-owned utility companies from raising utility prices for two years from its enactment or passing the cost of the polluter’s fee to consumers. This bill will remind utility companies that they are utility providers for everyone, not just profit providers for their investors.

By making Eversource foot the bill, we can help our neighbors without being left holding the check at the end. Call the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy before Feb. 2 and ask it to support House Bill 4045 to establish an arrearage relief fund to make sure the lights and heat stay on for everyone in Massachusetts.

Ellen Mei, Prospect Street

Ellen Mei is a member of Take Back the Grid, which advocates for public ownership of utilities.