The Foxborough Board of Selectmen held a public question and answer session at Foxborough High School Tuesday to voice their extreme disappointment in National Grid’s lack of response to the power outage in town during the "Halloween" storm.
Representatives from National Grid, including National Grid's Liaison to Foxborough, Tom Coughlin, who the town credits as a "true professional," attended the meeting to answer questions and listen to concerns about the October town-wide power outage. Rep. Jay Barrows and Senator James Timilty also addressed the audience with their thoughts on the ongoing "power problems." Senator Timility described National Grid's performance as an "epic failure."
In an ironic turn of events, at 6:00pm on Tuesday, approximately one hour before the meeting was set to begin with National Grid, power outages were reported in Foxborough. It was reported by Fire Chief Roger Hatfield that the power outage was due to a limb coming down on high voltage lines on South Street.
"There was a power outage just down the street. Almost had to cancel the meeting on power because we had no power," said Board Chairman Lawrence Harrington.
Power was restored to residents shortly after 8:00pm.
Many residents attending the National Grid Q&A at FHS made their voices heard on issues ranging from tree trimming, National Grid's customer service line; generators for senior housing; improved emergency service for residents who are disabled and have critical care family members; house break-ins; improved communication with the town during emergencies; the number of National Grid crews in Foxborough; and lastly the popular question of "can the town look into getting it's own power?"
"Go home tonight [National Grid] and think about those people here tonight [with troubling stories during the outage]. Its about those people who could have lost there lives due to National Grid's negligence," said Foxborough resident Deborah Stewart.
"I have an issue with tree trimming. We haven’t seen anyone in five years. This is a disgrace what is happening in Foxborough. You should be embarrassed," said one Foxborough resident.
Foxborough residents spoke candidly for over two and half hours on their desire for change, leaving National Grid representatives at some moments, searching for answers. National Grid representatives said what they could in attempt to put out the fire, but for most residents in attendance, the damage had already been done and the company's standard "record breaking" storm response to most questions was unreceptive.
When asked how many National Grid crews are in Foxborough on a regular basis, National Grid representatives responded, "approximately 30 crews in our Southeast Hopedale office."
Foxborough residents continued to push the question, asking for a specific number of crews just in Foxborough. Again, National Grid responded with "30 crews" in their Southeast Hopedale office. However, they also added in the fact that, that same office in Hopedale also serves 27 other communities.
“I don’t think Hopedale has any idea what Foxborough is all about," noted a resident.
Town Manager Kevin Paicos spoke bluntly towards the conclusion of the Q&A session about the only way that change will "really" happen.
"The problem is that investor owned utility is [about] profit [and] making that a priority. They [National Grid] do not exist to provide service," spoke a concerned Paicos. "Their primary responsibility is to make the people who own the company money."
"If you really want change, then you go to get the Massachusetts legislature and go get them to pass bill 869."
Bill 869 is an act "relative to the establishment of municipal lighting authorities." Passing Bill 869 would essentially give municipalities, such as Foxborough, options and the opportunity to explore power options beyond National Grid.
"If legislature passes this, it would create competition into the utility industry and I guarantee you it would create a better product," said Paicos. "This law has got to pass and is long overdue – 100 years overdue."
*This report was submitted by Courtney Jansson through Cover It Live. Check back to Foxborough Patch on Wednesday for a complete report.