Unitil on the offensive

Beleaguered electric company Unitil is on a damage control tour this week, visiting regional newspaper editorial boards and taking out major ads in Boston newspapers.

In a meeting this afternoon with Worcester Magazine, The Leominster Champion and The Fitchburg Pride, CEO Robert Schoenberger and VP George Gantz said that the company’s response to December’s ice storm was hampered by promised crews from Ohio not showing up, as well as the brunt of the storm being focused on their service area.

“If we would have gotten those crews from Ohio, we would have done better,” said Schoenberger.

In response to calls for municipalities to take over operations from Unitil, the pair claimed that the company had done everything in their power, and that municipalities would not have handled the situation any more efficiently.  One of the biggest problems, according to the company?  The rumors that circulated as power outages stretched on.

Though they did not name State Representative Steve DiNatale by name, it is clear the company is frustrated by the criticism that was flying – most vocally from him – in the days following the storm.  Further, much of the media coverage from outside the region was simply untrue, they said.

But, facing heavy pressure, Schoenberger was realistic about the future.  “Will we ever have a love affair with Fitchburg?  Probably not.”  But, he said, the company’s goal is to return to being a good, reliable utility.


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