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SENATE, No. 2 658

 

[ December 13 , 2010 - Text of the Senate amendment ( Ways and Means ) to the House Bill to authorize the town of Chelmsford to regulate the removal of above ground utility poles and overhead wires , House, No. 4 408 . ]

 

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
 

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In the Year Two Thousand and Ten

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SECTION 1.   Notwithstanding any general law, special law, by-law or regulation to the contrary, the town of Chelmsford is hereby authorized to take the following action regarding the removal of aboveground utility poles, overhead wires and other associated structures and to regulate the installation of underground wires and associated structures .

A utility subject to the provisions of this a ct shall file with the board of selectmen of the t own of Chelmsford a plan for the required removal of aboveground poles , overhead wires and associated overhead structures under the town’s bylaws and for any related installation of underground wires and associated structures . The utility shall file its plan within 90 days after the passage of this act, which plan shall be subject to review and approval by the b oard of s electmen.  After approval to adopt such plan, hereinafter referred to as “the Plan”, the b oard of s electmen may implement the Plan in phases, as may be determined from time-to-time by the board of selectmen. In determin ing if the Plan shall be implemented in phases, the board of selectmen shall consider the following factors, among other relevant factors: the total cost of completing the work under the Plan; the amount of funds collected by the utility from its customers in the town of Chelmsford in relation to the total cost of completing the work under the Plan; and the progress the utility is making towards completing the work under the Plan.  Any phasing of implementing the Plan shall not constitute an amendment of th e Plan. In determining whether to implement the Plan in phases, the board of selectmen shall consult with the utility; notwithstanding, the decision regarding phasing shall be in the sole discretion of the board of selectmen.

A utility shall be subject to the provisions of this act, if the utility is required to remove poles, overhead wires or associated overhead structures that it owns or operates in the town of Chelmsford, under section 119-3 of chapter 119 of the bylaws adopted at the Annual Town Meeting s held on April 26, 1999 and October 20, 2008, of said town. The board of selectmen may extend the time of any required filing by a utility under this section and may review and approve any modification of the Plan filed by a utility at any time.

The util ity may charge its customers in the t own of Chelmsford a surcharge as provided for in c hapter 166 of section 22 M of the General Laws , or successor statute, to pay for the work provided for in the Plan hereinafter referred to as “the Surcharge”. Commencing with the calendar year beginning January 1, 2011, the utility shall calculate interest on the difference between the funds charged to customers in the town of Chelmsford through the Surcharge and the payments of the utility in accordance with the Plan at a rate equivalent to the rate paid on two-year, United States Treasury notes, for the preceding twelve (12) months ending December 31 of any year, said interest shall be compounded annually on December 31, or higher interest rate as may be agreed upon by Ch elmsford and the utility. The interest accrued by the utility shall be applied to the financing of the Plan.

Commencing with the calendar year 2011, on or before March 31 of each year, the utility shall prepare a detailed report to the Chelmsford board of selectmen regarding the actions taken to implement the Plan. The report shall include, but not be limited to the following information: the number of customers in the town of Chelmsford from whom the Surcharge was billed, including those electric distribu tion customers billed by competitive suppliers for the preceding calendar year; the amount of the Surcharge billed to the customers in the town of Chelmsford ; the accrued interest earned as defined in the preceding paragraph ; and the balance of funds in ex cess of or less than payments associated with the Plan as of December 31 of the preceding calendar year. The report shall also contain aggregated information on expenses for the following items: engineering and design , materials and construction , land acquisitions, taxes and public safety.

The board of selectmen may temporarily or permanently suspend the collection of the Surcharge from the utility’s customers in the town of Chelmsford upon the following: (a) the board of selectmen gives notice of and holds a public hearing regarding consideration of such suspension; (b) the notice of the public hearing is published in a newspaper of general circulation in the town and posted on a town bulletin board and on the town’s website at least 14 days befor e the date of the hearing; (c) the notice of public hearing is sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, at least 14 days before the date of the hearing to the utility for which the suspension is being considered; and (d) after said hearing, the bo ard of selectmen finds: (i) the utility has collected sufficient funds through the Surcharge from the customers in the town of Chelmsford to carry out the Plan, or (ii) the utility has collected sufficient funds from its customers in the town of Chelmsford through the Surcharge to fund a phase of the Plan.

SECTION 2.               This act shall take effect upon its passage.

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