At a hearing next week, Boston councilors will demand answers from NStar on two recent transformer problems in the Back Bay, one of which left much of the neighborhood without power for several days.
Council President Steve Murphy says he wants more than just soothing words from the utility - he wants somebody independent of the company to start monitoring the way it delivers power in Boston.
"I, for one, have a difficult time believing that we can't do better than allow NStar to inspect their own equipment and just tell us that, wink, nod, everything is OK," he said at the council meeting at which he called for the hearing, after the March blackout but before this week's blackout.
"It's not like we could decide tomorrow that we're going to get our electricity from Chicago Power and Light," Murphy said. "We're stuck with who we're stuck with, and we have to make sure that there's a way that we can take at face value what they say will be accurate, because, when you think about it, how many different people were impacted, how was the city impacted?"
Councilor Tito Jackson (Roxbury), agreed, and said any independent inspection should include a look at backup, because the transformer that was supposed to take over for the transformer that caught fire was in the same building. "We are a major American city and much of our city was offline for close to four to five days. That can't be something that we stand for in the future."
Councilor Charles Yancey (Dorchester, Mattapan), said he was particularly struck by NStar CEO Thomas May's "dismissive" tone in comments about efforts by Mayor Menino to get the company to compensate residents and businesses for blackout losses.
The hearing, before the Committee on City, Neighborhood and Veteran Affairs, starts at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 18 in the council's fifth-floor chambers. NStar and the heads of Boston's public-safety departments have been asked to attend.