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Parent to turn out lights on Mass. Electric name

Massachusetts Electric Co., a brand name dating to the heyday of electricity industry mascot Reddy Kilowatt, will disappear this year as the utility's British parent renames all its US subsidiaries National Grid. For regulatory and legal purposes, Mass. Electric will still exist. But in 168 Bay State cities and towns, customers in coming weeks will see National Grid replace Mass. Electric on bills, trucks, uniforms, and offices. Rhode Islanders who have been served by Narragansett Electric since 1884 also will see that brand give way to National Grid, as will New York's Niagara Mohawk customers.

National Grid's move comes as Congress is poised to repeal a 1935 utility regulation law that could unleash a new wave of utility megamergers in the United States.

Michael Jesanis, chief executive of National Grid USA, said yesterday that ''there's no secret that National Grid does wish at some point to be larger in the US. Our vision is to be the premier energy delivery company in the US." But Jesanis said it was ''merely coincidence" the utilities were adopting a common name now. Shareholder profits will fund the change, he said.

The company has some experience with identity makeovers. Forty-three years ago, 24 local utilities once known as Attleboro Steam and Electric, Merrimack-Essex Electric, Quincy Electric Light and Power, and Wachusett Electric decided to come together under one name: Massachusetts Electric.

Peter J. Howe can be reached at howe@globe.com.

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