National Grid to Provide Trainings for First Responders, Service Improvements, and Charitable Assistance Worth One Million Dollars Following December 26 Storm Response
AG's Review Determined That National Grid Initially Misclassified Intensity Of Storm, Resulting In Delayed Response and Poor Communication with Municipalities
The December 26, 2010 storm left over 113,000 customers without power. In the agreement reached today, if approved by the DPU, National Grid would be required to:
- Make payments of $50,000 to both the United Way and Red Cross, both of which assisted with response to outages;
- Fund trainings for police and firefighters in the affected communities;
- Provide equipment and $150,000 over 3 years to the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy to ensure that public safety responders have the necessary training to deal with electric outages and downed wires;
- Make significant improvements to communications and other community storm response mechanisms; and
- Ensure that municipalities receive full reimbursement for related costs.
None of these costs to National Grid would be passed on to ratepayers.
"Today's action provides benefits for National Grid's customers and ensures additional training, resources and coordination with the region's public safety community," said Attorney General Coakley. "Today's agreement with National Grid not only provides funding for those most impacted as a result of the Company's response, but also puts in place safeguards to prevent these mistakes from happening again."
In December 2010, the Department of Public Utilities opened an investigation into National Grid's performance regarding its preparation for and response to the storm. As part of the DPU investigation, the Attorney General found that National Grid initially misclassified the intensity of the storm, which resulted in a delayed response to what became a very significant storm. This in turn created difficulties with National Grid's communication of estimated times of arrival to municipal officials and prevented National Grid from deploying enough wires down staff in a timely manner. As a result, National Grid and municipal public safety officials were overwhelmed by hundreds of downed wires, and municipalities needed to place police and fire details at wire down locations for extended periods. The Attorney General also found that the Company could improve its storm response with respect to communications and follow up with Life Support and Critical Service customers and critical care facilities.
In addition to the other settlement terms, the agreement also requires National Grid to:
- Perform public education and outreach regarding downed wires;
- Fund a study at a Massachusetts university to develop a formal model to correlate weather data with electric system outages in order to improve its emergency response planning; and
- Train additional employees to be able to respond to downed wires;
The proposed settlement needs to be approved by the Department of Public Utilities by August 1, 2011 in order to become effective.
Massachusetts Electric Company and Nantucket Electric Company, each doing business as National Grid, serve 1.2 million customers throughout Massachusetts.
The Attorney General's Office of Ratepayer Advocacy is the Commonwealth's ratepayer advocate and is authorized to intervene in administrative or judicial proceedings on behalf of consumers in connection with any matter involving the rates, charges, prices, or tariffs of any electric company doing business in the Commonwealth.