Cost of Power & Settlement AgreementThe cost of power was a major issue in the early 1980s, as rising fuel prices pushed up electric bills. Repeated wholesale power cost increases from Boston Edison prompted the Light Plant to take legal action on several occasions, often in concert with other municipal wholesale customers. The legal actions, while time consuming, resulted in multi-million dollar savings for electricity consumers in Concord, as case after case was decided in the Town’s favor. The 1980 settlement between Concord Municipal Light Plant (CMLP) and Boston Edison allowed Concord to purchase the use rights to the 14 kilovolt distribution facilities located between Edison’s Lexington substation and the town line. CMLP also bought the Edison facilities within Concord that were used solely for Concord’s service.
The agreement stipulated, in part, that Edison would not make any wholesale rate increases before retail increases. This was to prevent further price squeezes. The provision became effective March 1, 1980, and ran for five years with a possible renewal in another five years unless either party canceled. Not surprisingly, Boston Edison canceled the 1980 agreement after exactly five years and began raising wholesale prices again. By the mid-80s, Edison’s actions had placed Concord in another price squeeze, resulting in another anti-trust case. This time a jury awarded CMLP $5.9 million, with treble damages, for a total of $17.7 million. Unfortunately, the award was overturned on appeal by Edison, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider the matter.