Rep. Birmingham criticized the Legislative Power and Light Committee for dragging its feet on legislation to regulate holding companies in the Massachusetts power and light industry, during an April 29 committee hearing, the Springfield Daily Republican reported (April 30, 1930, p. 14 via Genealogy Bank).
Birmingham said that “only last week the Koppers interests secured control of the Charlestown Gas & Electric, while we discuss the advisability of restraining such mergers.”
Birmingham cited the testimony of W. Rodman Peabody, vice president of Western Massachusetts Companies, a holding company operating the power and light companies in the western part of the state, opposing the legislation.
He asked the committee: “If that company is as pure as snow, why is Mr. Peabody up here opposing this bill? Will Mr. Peabody say he is opposed to a consolidation of his company with the New England Power company? The Western Massachusetts might be the best holding company in the state today, and by tomorrow, because of control by New England Power, might be the worst.”
Birmingham backed the Boston municipal government’s takeover of Edison Electric Illuminating Company and the supply of electricity by Edison to the new post office in Boston. He also urged Boston city officials and the U.S. government to “join with us in attempting to have rates reasonable instead of trying to save a few dollars.”
Testifying against the legislation, Frank D. Comerford, president of the New England Power Association, said that his company was proud of the vastness of his company. He noted that city and town officials had not appeared before the committee to advocate for regulation of the power and light industry. He said regulation was being pushed by a few overzealous persons, apparently referring to Birmingham.
Comerford said his company is a “legal vehicle by which 50,000 investors loan their savings to 8,700 employees and expect those employees to use the money so as to give them a reasonable return on their investment and to do New England a service by furnishing adequate facilities for light and power.”