Ratepayers Pay for Projects Once!!
by AB Executive Director Joe Favaloro
The battle between the MWRA and NSTAR/Eversource (Harbor Electric Energy Company) took another turn earlier this month.
A suit was filed by US Attorney Carmen Ortiz regarding the Cross Harbor Cable. The suit asks for Eversource (HEEC) and the MWRA to comply with the 1989 federal permit to remove the cable and pay “appropriate civil penalties.”
A message for the Federal Court, MassPort and Army Corp: WE ALREADY COMPLIED AND WILL NOT PAY AGAIN.
Some facts that the US Attorney seems to ignore:
For the past 25 years, MWRA as the sole customer of HEEC has made annual payments to them, not only for capacity and maintenance, but for the capital cost of the cross-harbor electrical cable totaling $39.4 million and $104 million with interest added in.
The cable was designed, constructed, and maintained by HEEC. Low and behold, HEEC’s cross-harbor cable fails to comply with the Army Corp of Engineers specifications because it wasn’t laid deep enough.
We fully appreciate MassPort’s desire to deepen the harbor by carving a channel to accommodate larger ships. This could be an economic boon to the region. Just as the Boston Harbor Cleanup has generated over $87 million a year in state and local taxes and over a $100 million per year in additional local buying power (as reported in our full study on investment in water and wastewater infrastructure and economic development).
But let me reiterate: we did nothing wrong. It is not our responsibility to pay twice for HEEC’s mistakes and/or disregard for the Army Corps permit.
Mr. Laskey in his response to the Court filings emphatically stated “The Massachusetts Water Resource Authority remains steadfast that neither the Authority nor its ratepayers should bear the burden for NSTAR’s incorrect installation of the Boston Harbor Electric Cable, and we look forward to the timely resolution of the issue.”
Our ratepayers have born the $6 billion in costs for all the MWRA projects from the clean-up of the Harbor, to a fishable and swimmable Charles River, to the best drinking water in the country.
But, as I opened with, ratepayers pay for projects once. This is a battle we will fight from the Moakley Federal Court House in South Boston all the way to the Supreme Court in Washington if need be.
Some fights you do not back away from. This is one of them.
This editorial originally appeared in the July 2016 edition of News and Notes