State Rep. Wants Utilities To Give Rebates To Customers Who Lose Power

BOSTON (CBS) – Thousands of homes and businesses in Massachusetts are still without power, four days after Tropical Storm Irene.

Now one state legislator wants the utilities to give customers rebates.

Representative Dan Winslow of Norfolk says power companies should be forced to give customers two days worth of rebates for every day they go without electricity.

“Next week, I’m going to be making a proposal that consumers who lose their power receive a rebate for the day they lost power, but also for an additional day. Basically, two days of rebates on your power bills for every day that you lose power,” he told WBZ NewsRadio 1030.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens talks to Winslow

“One it’s just a matter of basic fairness for consumers. If you lose power you certainly shouldn’t pay for it that day and then, I think, having an additional day of rebate for the inconvenience of having lost power is something that seems fair.”

“But it also creates a financial incentive for the utilities to really marshal the resources, to anticipate the plan, and to react more quickly, because the more quickly they react, they faster the rebate goes away.”

Winslow represents six towns and he says his constituents are “buzzing mad about the lack of information” from the utility companies.

“All of the utilities had plenty of notice that this major event was coming along. In fact, it was supposed to be worse.”

  • Devereux French

    Are you kidding? Rebates? Does the ice storm of 2008 ring a bell with you? We were without power in the COLD for 13 days – n o one gave US a rebate – in fact our utility company just had a RATE INCREASE approved for the costs of the repairs for the ice storm – and you expect a REBATE? I have NO sympathy for you. Buy a generator and be thankful this did not happen in December, January, or February.

    • Mass Border Resident

      I agree…8 days here in the 2008 Ice storm. Buy a generator if you don’t want to be without power.

    • Mass Border Resident

      I agree…8 days here in the 2008 Ice storm. Buy a generator!

    • gigi

      I am pretty sure the article is stating that this will be put forward for anyone who loses power for more than a few days for exactly the reason of the ice storm and Irene, not just Irene storm

    • polllygirl

      I totally agree with the previous comment.Rebates we got estimated bills higher than our regular bills and if you didn’t pay they sent a shut-off notice. Rebates HA HA HA !!!!

  • jn

    I totally agree. The ice storm in 2008 was isolated, alot fewer customers were affected and some us went without power for 2 weeks, all the time unable to LIVE in our homes due to the temperatues. We were NOT offered rebates! It seems to mee the response to Irene has been great, nearly a 1/2 million customers without power just 5 days ago and 75% of those have already been restored. I have no sympathy for those complaining now, deal withit and be gald you have a home you can live in until the power is restored.

  • Give me a break

    Rebates? Really? Thank goodness the storm wasn’t worse. These people would be without power for much longer! Linemen from Michigan and Canada were called in right away to help. These men are working round the clock! They can’t just flip a switch and turn your power on.

  • Ken

    Rebate of what. If the power is off you are not using any and there is no charge. Sounds like political band-wagon noise to me

    • Jane

      Thats what I was thinking. When the power is off your meter isn’t running therefore you’re not paying for it. I would think the electric company would want to get the power back on as quickly as possible just for this reason. I don’t see the point in giving out rebates to people. Blame it on our antiquated infrastructure…

      • miley

        I agree, you should figure out what your talking about before you open your mouth Matt. You are paying for the transmission of the electricity you USE, not some imaginary power you didn’t use. You really think the power companies could get away with charging customers for not even using their services?

      • Jane

        Actually Matt, I do look at my bill and it clearly shows that the transmission charge I get from National Grid is based off how many kwh I’ve used in the billing period, therefore, if I’m not using any electricity, they’re not charging me. Lets also not forget that we don’t actually get our power from National Grid, NGrid only delivers the power from the source.

      • Matt

        You are both wrong. Look at your bill for once and realize that half of those charges come from transmition use, actual consumption and just having the ability to use electricity even if you don’t. Some people do not have the ability to use any power and are still being charged for this. Even if you turned off all of the power to your house at the breaker panel for a month you would still get a bill at the end of the month and it will be bigger than you think it should for using no power. Then try the same thing by turning off you home phone and look at the charges you still acrue.

  • nancy

    do you want electricity at all? The rebate suggestion would put the companies under. When the weather plays a role there are more than just phone poles to fix. It takes other utility workers(id tree removal etc) to move things along so, though I understand the tension those without electricity are feeling, we cannot blame the electric company for it all. In order to offer a rebate they would most likely raise costs to cover it, many families are struggling now. I would suggest that our representatives stop talking about ideas like this and do something to help the people now. You know, maybe offer water, shower facilities, facilities for laundry, or how about some food. Prove to the people they care.

  • Aaron Root

    Personally I don’t agree the Rep. here…at least not as broadly as he proposed it, however those of you referencing the ice storm outages come across idiots. This isn’t a one time deal he’s proposing. You’re arguing against the consumer because you feel slighted from a three year old incident. I’m sure when the next ice storm comes you’ll wish you were getting a rebate.

    Also, @Nancy. I agree with most of what you said, however this obviously would not put electrical companies under by the farthest stretch of the imagination. It would decrease their profits slightly.

    • jeff

      we feel slighted Aaron because we lost power for over a week and for some it was close to a month and you didn’t see anything on the news about it or any representatives speaking out. Now some people don’t have power for only three days and you want sympathy and money for something you didn’t use? People should stop crying suck it up and stop trying to get something for free because they feel slighted

  • Ron

    How about every time a road or street is repaved the utility companies have to put their lines underground. No poles or wires for trees to fall on. No more storm related power outages, no repair bills

  • Champers

    Not only bury the wires but cut down all the trees 20 feet back from the road. Tree huggers should live in the forest

    • shotime

      Obviously, you do not understand the benefits of trees in urban and populated areas. Take the trees away, and we’ll have a whole new set of problems!!!!

    • shotime

      Obviously, you do not understand the benefits of trees in urban and populated areas! Take away the trees and you will have a whole new set of problems!!!

  • Rob

    This is common sense that all the companies should some how be responsible financially to their customers due to the disaster, this includes the power companies, like Nstar.

    Many IT companies pay their customers if the data center is down due to disaster and the backup system is not working.

    • Susan

      utilities don’t have “back up systems” and the business is much different than an IT company. How can a company be responsible when THOUSANDS of trees…..really BIG trees..were blown over..taking out countless poles and lines..???? this is all nonsense….maybe when your lights come back on you will appreciate the hard work that went into getting them on…don’t blame NSTAR..blame mother nature..oh..and rebates????? you sound like an idiot!

      • Rob

        We all appreciate the hard work. However, can “hard work” be an excuse for all the power outage?

        >>>>>utilities don’t have “back up systems” and the business is much different than an IT company<<<<<>>>>>>don’t blame NSTAR..blame mother nature..oh..and rebates????? you sound like an idiot!<<<<<
        We shall not blame mother nature, because we know the disaster will happen anyway. We shall blame the power company, because they knew the disaster will happen and did not do the job to prevent the customers from losing power for so many days. Our representatives shall speak for all their people, not the companies who do not want to take the responsibilities.

      • Frank

        Rob I really hope you come on and answer this because I would really like to know how in the world power companies are supposed to prepare for downed power lines. Would you like them to send workers out in the storm and hold all the lines together by hand? Its amazing how uneducated people can be, yes you can plan ahead of time and have spare parts ready but that isn’t the issue. You still have to go out and re-connect each broken line and connect it to each individual house from each pole. Do you think that its just that simple to just plug it it or what? just look at how dangerous of a situation your dealing with, the poor man in Southbridge(may be wrong on location but you know what I’m talking about) walked out of his house touched the railing and was electrocuted! these linemen have to take their time and do it right and it cant be rushed or else they aren’t going home to their families at the end of the day. People just need to suck it up and deal, they are working to turn the power back on and it will go back on eventually stop trying to just get something for free

  • web

    Instead of Rebates, how about just not charge the customer if they do not have power that day…do not charge them at all for the day..very reasonable.

    • Alicia

      You are not charged for electricity you don’t use. Even transmission charges are based on usage. The only charge you might see if you don’t use electricity is a connection charge and that is about $5/month – I know, with solar panels on my house I make more electricity than I use some months. I think it makes the Representative look very clueless to say that people should get a rebate for something they don’t pay for.

      • Jane

        Yes, thank you!

  • Julie

    We are very lucky people, you could be freezing or it could be 90 degrees out. If a storm hits it is an act of god and there is not a swtich to flip to get your power back on. Unless you want people dying from being electrocuted so you can have your tiv working?

  • Susan

    if the meter is not turning are not charged….

    • Matt


      • Alicia

        On a bill with no usage National Grid charges $4 customer charge. ALL other charges are usage based, including all transmission and distribution charges. I’m holding one in my hand. With solar panels we often have bills with 0 usage.

        Overall, it makes the Rep look pretty uninformed, because even with your logic, he’s talking about $0.17 per customer.

  • Anonymous

    The lack of communication from power companies has been infuriating for us. Here in Norwell, most of the town is still without power, including us. We’re running a few appliances on generator power so it could be worse in that sense. However, I haven’t seen one power truck in our neighborhood yet and you can tell that tension is building in local neighborhoods. I understand the power companies have a lot of work to do but it would make us feel much better if we got at least some update from National Grid (our electricity provider) on how things are progressing. I know this is a little off-topic but I had to get that off my chest.

    • Julie

      Sometimes they do not know. They run into issues while restoring power in other areas. I understand it is frustrating but power is never a guarantee and if it is a week w/o power I think you can live with that. People get frustrated if they are told their power will be on at a certain time and it is not that is why they can only give an estimate which is frustrating.

  • Beyond Annoyed With No Power

    Yes, we are lucky it’s not winter or a heat wave. But you cannot get answers from anyone, the story keeps changing….. the linemen and customer service are just doing their jobs. Whoever was in charge of preparing for this well-publicized storm and for coordinating the restoration is failing miserably. The South Shore towns are last on the list off their website, why? Norwell keeps being touted as one of the hardist hit, yet they are towards the end of the list with other South Shore towns, why? Thank goodness this wasn’t a full-force hurricane.

  • Ali

    Rebates NO, the answer is is to get your butts out there and maintain the dang lines we pay you each and every month for its as simple as that!!!! GO GREEN then the wind that ruins your lines will produce power instead.

  • Alli

    Rebates NO, the answer is is to get your butts out there and maintain the dang lines we pay you each and every month for its as simple as that!!!! GO GREEN then the wind that ruins your lines will produce power instead.

    • Matt

      I don’t get your point. Even wind or another form of green energy it still needs to be transported to your house somehow. So lines will have to be still used for that. And I don’t think that proper maintaince will prevent a tree from blowing over in a hurricain or some other weather related problem unless you keep a 50 foot clear zone around each pole and all of the wires.

  • Tom Milner

    Nstar told us today that are electric should be restored by Sept. 3. We have 5 homes in our development. All of the homes have no electric, but our driveway lanterns were on last night. I thought the priority would be homes vs. driveway lanterns. Homes within 1/10 of the mile have power restored. There was a utility truck packed by our development today with 2 guys taking a nap in it. No wonder we don’t have electricity!!

  • National Grid President Flew To Hawaii Before Irene Hit « CBS Boston

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  • IronManCC

    A Country of whiners, that’s what we are. We’ve gone from a Nation that excels in the face of adversity, to one that sits around and whines and looks for handouts. Oh, and those two infamous words continually pop up: “I” and “Me” No one is responsible for themselves, it always needs to be someone else’s fault or responsibility. Gee whiz, how about a “rebate” to all of us taxpayers every time a legislator isn’t present for a vote? Or goes on some tour to allegedly promote their district or the State? Or hits the campaign trail to run for a higher office? This kind of legislation is comical, at best….

  • Ronald C

    If the power companies are forced to give rebates they will just jack the rates up to offset the cost. One idea would be to force the power companies to provide a fixed rate to consumers per kilowatt hour which is agreed to by state government and then fine the power compaines for each day of no service provided to their contracted customers.

  • beaches

    Listen, I went 11 days without power in the ice storm. Four days is nothing. People think they’re the only ones that have no power. How many people do you think work for the power companies? They can only do so much. No one cared that western mass. had a terrible ice storm. When your near Boston I guess you expect more. We had power companies from Tennesee fixing our power lines, and we were one of the last towns to get power. Try going to the fire dept. everyday for water, shoveling snow, getting gas for a generator and cooking on a wood stove and bringing in wood everyday to have heat. No water because of a well. Tell me how bad you have it.

  • JD

    Typical of the morons we elect to public office.

    So businesses are now responsible for natural disasters?

  • Jay

    I am mad at National Grid because they’re too big and their poor communication.. The small municipal electric companies are up. North Attleboro Electric and Mansfield crews worked through the storm. Their customers went 0 days without power. That is proof the issue could have been handled in a timely manner if they didn’t buy more than they can handle. They also need to invest in new technology.

  • Cathy Driscoll Clark

    Each MA INVESTOR OWNED utlility, in MA must file a vegitation maint. plan with the DPU, I suggest you look into it, call your town and contact the DPU. Further the problem is if you look around on a daily basis you will see in areas served by Investor owned utilitites, NStar, Natl Grid and UNITIL, that trees are wrapped up lin lines. So when a storm hits it of course has a huge impact.
    After the ice storm of 08 which impacted the No.Central MA region, there was an outcry, ALMOST 2 WKS. without power in freezing temps.
    In 09′ the lawmakers then passed the Utilities accountablity law, aka the Unitil bill which states uitities have to perform, ie. file an emergency plan and properly react or be fined. RIGHT NOW there is a bill on Beacon HIll which could have a LARGE impact on uitilities in MA- the MUNI CHOICE legislation would introduce competition in utilities which could make a difference with rates and service. I would suggest everyone tell their reps. to support this bill and email the chair of the committee telling him to PASS this bill: for more info. check out: and

  • Post-Irene Power Outages Down To About 24,000 In Mass. « CBS Boston

    […] Read: State Rep. Wants Utilities To Give Rebates […]

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