Quincy and utility in feud over wires
Quincy officials and National Grid are arguing over who should pay the $1.18 million cost of moving utility wires from abandoned poles along the newly created Walter Hannon Parkway into the underground conduit.
The wires were abandoned when Revere Road was reconstructed for the concourse this past year. According to city officials, Verizon Corp. installed a $2.6 million conduit below the parkway for the very purpose of relocating wires for the new downtown.
Although Verizon has moved all of its wires to the underground conduit, National Grid has refused to do so on its own dime.
“The conduit’s already there, we’re just asking them to pull wires underground,’’ said Quincy Planning Director Dennis Harrington. “We’re [only] obligated to take their wires and connect to all the houses at city expense.’’
According to Harrington, Verizon told the city that the poles, which the company owns, would be removed at no cost to the city once all utilities were removed.
But because National Grid has refused to pay for the expense of removing its wires, the existing poles are still in the middle of a sidewalk along Revere Road.
National Grid takes issue with Quincy’s viewpoint.
“While we recognize that this is an important project to the city, we need to adhere to policies and regulations that do not favor one set of customers over another,’’ National Grid spokeswoman Debbie Drew said.
“In this instance, both [Department of Public Utilities] regulations and case law protect our being at these locations. Asking that these unique costs for Quincy be absorbed by customers in other communities is something we cannot support. We plan to continue working with the city to resolve this issue.’’
At their meeting Monday, city councilors voted to declare the city’s right to have the wires placed in the underground conduit, a decision that Chief of Staff James Fatseas said would strengthen the city’s position.
“We’re telling National Grid that the lines have to be moved, the road has to be abandoned, the area their wires have been strung is no longer available to them,’’ Fatseas said. “This is cleaning up a situation.’’
Harrington referenced as much in a letter to National Grid on Oct. 12, saying that the company’s “basis of opposition’’ was “unpersuasive and without merit.’’
According to Harrington, municipalities only must garner the expense of utility relocation from roadway construction when the company has a valid easement. Because National Grid no longer has an easement for the property, the continuation of the equipment “now constitutes a trespass against the City of Quincy,’’ Harrington wrote.
Harrington said the matter may result in a lawsuit if National Grid remains uncooperative.
Although the intent is to take the poles down, no new roadway would have to be torn up in the process, Harrington said.
It’s not the city’s only outstanding dispute with National Grid.
The Department of Public Utilities will hold a hearing on Tuesday to address National Grid’s response to Tropical Storm Irene.
There will be over a half-dozen regional meetings about the issue, one of which councilors requested be held in Quincy.
“It’s a good opportunity to let the DPU know how you were affected. It’s not just a quality-of-life issue, it’s a financial impact,’’ said council president Kevin Coughlin. “This [issue] screams out for attention.’’
The meeting will take place at the Quincy High School auditorium at 7 p.m.
Jessica Bartlett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.