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Editorial: More power for community

Greenfield Mayor William Martin’s push to create a municipal conduit for electrical power may not be unique — there are plenty of communities that have their own municipal electric utility — but it’s important nevertheless.

That’s because it’s about the power of community.

“This will be a great economic development tool for us,” Martin told The Recorder’s Anita Fritz.

“Large companies use a lot of electricity and we will be able to offer them reduced prices. It will be a great marketing tool for attracting new businesses.”

Take it a step further. Having new companies locate in Greenfield helps to expand the tax base, providing not only more revenue for the city but also lessening the burden on the existing taxpayers.

That, on top of potential savings in electric rates, makes this a worthwhile pursuit.

What’s envisioned is that Greenfield would establish a power-buying aggregate, one that would negotiate with companies generating electrical power and would be able to get a reduced rate, something that would be passed on to the city’s customers. It’s thought at this time those residents or businesses willing to sign up would save anywhere from 50 cents to $2 a month on their electrical bill. Meanwhile the city’s existing electrical utility, Western Massachusetts Electric Co. would continue to handle the billing, handle customer complaints and service the lines, etc.

At the same time, Martin said, the plan would allow Greenfield more choices when it comes to how the electrical power is generated, including the mix of hydro, fossil fuel, solar or wind.

“The goal is to increase the amount of electricity generated by town projects so everyone’s bill would be lowered and dependence on energy from foreign and environmentally degrading sources would be decreased,” said Martin.

“We are moving toward a truly ‘green’ Greenfield.”

What has to happen next is that the state Department of Public Utilities must approve, clearing the way for local action.

As usual, the devil is in the details, but it all sounds to us like a move in the right direction.

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