To the editor:
I am writing this letter to endorse Nate Burke and Walter Homan for the two light commissioner positions on the June 20 ballot.
The number one goal of Marblehead’s Light Department is safety, followed by reliability, and then by cost. During their service as light commissioners, Nate and Walter have always voted these priorities, and for that reason, Marblehead’s safety and reliability record is among the best in the state, and our electric rates have always been among the lowest in the state.
One only needs to talk to our neighbors in Swampscott or Salem to know what a disaster for consumers investor-owned utilities like National Grid have been for reliability and cost. Walter and Nate’s opponents are trying to follow the lead of investor-owned utilities with terrible track records, all in the name of extreme electrification.
When it comes to customer service, Marblehead is unmatched, with response times during outages often measured in minutes, rather than hours or days. It is because we are locally managed and nonprofit with local employees, not investor- and lobbyist-controlled, that we can deliver this safety and value to Marblehead’s ratepayers.
I have spoken with three of the four candidates for Light Commission and discussed my concerns with them as well as the national trend towards electrification. I’m all for sustainable and renewable energy and feel our goals should be process-driven versus agenda-driven. Walter and Nate understand that realistic, safe, and cost-effective solutions must always come first.
Electrification policy to eliminate fossil fuels is a national or state-level issue, not a go it alone issue that can be tackled by Marblehead, where we purchase rather than produce our own power. Marblehead buys its electricity, increasingly from green and cost-effective sources, but the Light Department’s job here in Marblehead is to support our local infrastructure.
Lately, there have been proposals to implement radical policy objectives that are dangerous and untested, against the advice of our fire chief, with a frightening disregard to fire safety. One commissioner even recently stated, “Our purview is not safety.” If safety isn’t the priority of the Light Department, what is?
Other proposals from opponents of Nate and Walter to “punish” ratepayers for using electricity by charging higher prices during dinnertime hours have also been presented, all in the name of subsidizing electric cars in Marblehead that our electric grid was never built to service. These kinds of knee-jerk proposals hurt those who can afford it the least. Battery technology is improving, but containment of a battery fire, especially in a place like historic downtown Marblehead where homes are often just feet apart, is asking for disaster. Imagine, imagine if it did happen …
If safety, reliability, and affordability are your priorities, the choice for light commissioner could not be clearer. Please join me in voting for Nate Burke and Walter Homan for Light Commission on Tuesday, June 20.