Commentary by John G. Tzimorangas
The more people I run into and talk to about the Hingham Municipal Lighting Plant, the more I realize that most citizens in Hingham do not understand the history and benefits of the Light Plant. The suggestion has been made by several people that the visibility of the Light Plant be raised by educating the ratepayers with regard to the benefits of a public power system. I have tried to capture some high level information that would assist the ratepayer in understanding the operation of the Light Plant. There is more detailed information about the Light Plant on the company website.
- The Hingham Municipal Lighting Plant (HMLP) was established in 1894 by two Town Meeting votes under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 164.
- The plant was purchased from the Weymouth Power and Light Company for $12,000 with bonds backed by ratepayer revenue.
- Hingham Light is one of 40 municipal utilities in Massachusetts and one of over 2,000 nationally.
- The Light Plant is governed by a three-person elected Board of Commissioners, who are responsible for setting rates, policies and procedures, while giving the ratepayer direct input into this process.
- The Light Plant holds monthly open public meetings to discuss Light Plant business and issues in the energy sector.
- HMLP’s mission is to provide safe, highly reliable, lower cost electricity to its customers.
- Hingham Light provides the Town of Hingham with an in-lieu-of tax payment significant larger than a private electric company would if it served Hingham.
- Hingham Light is involved in school education programs, residential home energy audit programs, electrical safety programs for public safety departments and community activities that benefit the customers of Hingham.
- The Light Plant offices are local for customers to conduct their business in person if desired.
There are presently 100 municipalities in Massachusetts that have signed on a bill that would make the process simpler to allow communities to form a municipal Light Plant. These communities have seen the benefits and advantages that a public power system could have in their communities.
Public power today is an important contemporary institution. Wherever public power exists, it is an expression of the ideal of local people working together to meet local needs. It is an expression of the local control that is at the heart of our public power system.