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Massachusetts Electrical Utilities Deregulation Referendum, Question 4 (1998)

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The Massachusetts State Legislators Compensation Amendment, also known as Question 4, was on the November 3, 1998 ballot in Massachusetts as a referendum. It was approved.

Election results

Question 4 (Electrical Utilities Deregulation)
Approveda Yes 1,251,540 64.7%

Official results via: The Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth

Text of measure

Ballot language

The language that appeared on the ballot:

A YES VOTE would continue the new law changing the electric utility industry.

A NO VOTE would undo these changes in the electric utility industry.

This is a referendum on a law passed in 1997. A "yes" vote would continue the new law, and a "no" vote would undo the new law. The law changes the state's electric utility industry. Starting in March 1998, instead of buying power from the utility that owns the power lines, customers may choose to buy power from separate generating companies competing with each other to sell power to be delivered by the existing utility. Customers not choosing a new competing generating company will be provided power by their existing utility under a transition rate for 7 years, starting from a rate 10% less than 1997 rates. By September 1999, rates for such customers must be further reduced from 1997 rates (adjusted for inflation) by 5%. Subject to restrictions of the law, rates paid by such customers may be adjusted up or down if approved by the new state Department of Telecommunications and Energy.[1][2]

Full text

The full text of the legislation enacted by Question 4 is available here.

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Supporters argued:

  • The referendum had the support of "Massachusetts consumer advocates, large and small employers, labor and environmental groups."
  • The referendum would give a consumers a guaranteed rate cut, break up the utility monopoly, let consumers choose their electricity supplier, encourages new and cleaner energy sources, provide additional benefits for consumers on low and fixed incomes, and create thousands of new job.[1]


Opponents argued:

  • The referendum would "[force] average families to pay $3000 for [mismanagement] and white elephant nuclear plants."
  • The referendum would "[scam] customers with fraudulent rate cuts."
  • The referendum would "[kill] competition by subsidizing existing utilities."
  • The referendum would "[endanger] family health and safety." by "keeping open dangerous nuclear plants and dirty coal/oil fired plants," "eliminating local protections against unneeded plant construction," and "discouraging development of clean, safe alternative energy."[1]

See also

External links

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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth (via
  2. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.