Utility tax bills and executive salaries

To the editor:”‘[Unitil’s] goal should be that we pay zero taxes, because if we pay taxes, the ratepayers are going to pay it,’ said Jonathan Giegerich, corporate tax specialist with the Hampton-based company.” (“The great rate debate,” Nov. 18-Dec. 1 NHBR.)Using Unitil’s logic, large investor-owned utilities can save ratepayers a lot of money without elaborate federal tax avoidance techniques: They should bring the extravagant compensation of their top executives down to reasonable levels.Reuters reports the following basic compensation in the latest fiscal year for utility executives (and millions more in stock options, incentive compensation, retirement benefits, etc):At Northeast Utilities, parent of Public Service of New Hampshire and Western Mass Electric (now seeking to merge with NStar): Charles Shivery, chairman of the board, president and CEO, $8.3 million; David McHale, chief financial officer, $5 million; Leon Olivier, chief operating officer, $4.3 million; and Gregory Butler, general counsel, $3.6 million.At NStar: Tom May, CEO, $7.9 million; James Judge, CFO, $5 million; Werner Schweiger, senior vice president of operations, $4.1 million; and Joseph Nolan, senior vice president, customer and corporate relations, $2.4 million.At Unitil: Robert Schoenberger, chairman, president and CEO, $1.4 million; and Mark Collin, CFO, $465,000.At National Grid: Steve Holliday, CEO, $2.1 million; and Tom King, president U.S., $1.6 million.Last year, the average general manager of a municipal utility in Massachusetts earned $133,205. And municipal utilities restore power much faster than large utilities after an ice storm, a tropical storm or a snowstorm. As long as large utilities enjoy a monopoly, they will continue to pay their executives millions of dollars, and will charge ratepayers too much for poor service.In Massachusetts, the Muni Choice Bill, now in the state legislature, would end the monopoly large utilities now enjoy by allowing the formation of new municipal utilities.Patrick MehrLexington, Mass.Massachusetts Alliance for Municipal Electric Choice

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