Rep. Birmingham introduced a bill in the 1930 legislative session to place power holding companies under the regulation of the Department of Public Utilities.
Speaking in support of his bill before the Committee on Power and Light April 29, Birmingham said that “only last week the Koppers interests secured control of the Charlestown Gas & Electric Company, while we discuss the advisability of restraining such mergers,” reported the Boston Herald, April 30, 1930, p. 21.
Citing the proposed takeover of the city hall power plant by the Edison company and the plan to have Edison supply electricity in the new post office building, he urged the city and federal government to “join with us in attempting to have rates reasonable instead of trying to save a few dollars.”
During the afternoon session of the committee’s hearing, Frank D. Comerford, president of the New England Power Association, said his group is willing to accept state regulation but it sees no differences between its interest and the public interest.
Comerford supported the majority report of the special power commission, which supported maintaining the status quo with regard to regulation. Birmingham authored the minority report that was highly critical of the majority’s conclusions.
His association’s policy is “to provide adequate facilities for service and to reduce rates as quickly as feasible in order that increased use, by reason of lower rates, may make use of the facilities,” he told the committee.
Comerford stressed that his association contributed investment and employment to Massachusetts and the New England region and that it had many small local shareholders.
“I believe that on the whole the great body of the public is satisfied with its utilities and believes that there are other and more important matters requiring public attention. Has it occurred to you, as it has to me, that in all the agitation arising from the hearings of the investigating committee and the hearings which you have held this year and in previous years, practically no interest has been shown by any one except the same small group of zealous advocates?,” Comerford concluded.