The rapidly increasing price of fuel oil in the 1970s caused some Braintree
citizens to question the value of a municipal electric system. Yet once again,
as in 1891, a study committee appointed by Town Meeting voters could not ignore the
obvious advantages of a town-owned utility. The committee concluded that liquidating
the Electric Light Department "would not be of material long-term economic benefit
to the majority of townspeople." The committee based its findings on several key points.
They found the Electric Light Department had added some $13 million to the town's assets
at no cost to the taxpayer. In addition, it had been a source of income. Other assets
included Braintree's proximity to large supplies of fuel and high-voltage transmission
lines, an ample supply of cooling water from the river, and a location in an industrial
area sufficiently large to install an adequate generating station. Instead of selling
the Department, townspeople supported the installation of the largest, most efficient
unit possible in order to meet the community's power needs for the next decade.
In 1973, Town Meeting voters approved a $20 million bond issue for the Electric
Light Department to install a new generating unit at the
Potter Station. Inflationary trends,
price escalations, project delays
and additional considerations required an additional $2 million approved in March 1976. Potter
II station, the largest project ever undertaken by the town, went on-line on April 1, 1977. Two
high-capacity interties with the New England network provided the town with the ability to
transmit all of its own generation over these lines, and to receive, if necessary, all of its
power requirements from outside facilities.