Letter: Vote for Stempeck and Hennessy for RMLD

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To the Editor:

I write to endorse my colleagues John Stempeck and Dave Hennessy for re-election to the Reading Municipal Light Department Board of Commissioners. John and Dave bring strong private sector management skills to their board service and are knowledgeable, experienced leaders. Both incumbents deserve your vote.

Like all electric utilities, RMLD is adjusting to an era of flattening electricity sales and disruptive, important technologies: solar generation, energy storage, energy-efficiency, and electric vehicles. RMLD needs to keep the grid reliable, modernize operations and rates, and potentially diversify. A great staff team is in place. John and Dave are the right leaders to help govern the utility into the future.

One RMLD matter has been in the news over the past year: whether RMLD can increase the amount of money it gives to the Town of Reading. Already RMLD’s $2.7 million payment appears to be the largest such payment by any municipal electric utility in Massachusetts, both as an absolute number and as a function of revenue. What’s more, the payment has been rising with inflation even when electricity sales don’t.

So while discussions on this topic continue, it’s important to remember RMLD is already an extremely strong partner and that municipal utilities aren’t tax-collecting entities (this memo provides details). Rather, RMLD’s mission is to manage an electric distribution business and to serve ratepayers in four towns with reliable service and reasonable rates.

As with the other commissioners, John and Dave are Reading residents who want what’s best for the town. They recognize that RMLD can be an engine for economic development. Reasonable electric rates and potentially other public utility services can help attract new businesses. This would bring multiple benefits including higher electricity sales and an expanded tax base.

The most important question going forward isn’t whether RMLD can give the Town more money—which would ultimately come from higher electric bills—but how the Town and RMLD can jointly promote high-quality economic development and identify sources of public savings and efficiencies.

My hope is that after the election, we can start approaching the question of the Town/RMLD relationship from that perspective. I’d like to help make that happen, and I know the same can be said of John Stempeck and Dave Hennessy.

David Talbot
75 Linden Street
Member of the RMLD Board of Commissioners

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