Statement of Attorney General Martha Coakley on Pending Storm and Utility Preparedness
“One year after a major October storm hit our region leaving thousands without power for days, we face the potential for another damaging storm with widespread impact. Our investigations identified many problems with last year’s storm response, including major communications failures with customers and municipalities. As a result, our office has recommended that the Department of Public Utilities impose record fines. We expect the utilities to have fixed these problems as ratepayers deserve a better response this time. If similar problems do occur in this or future storms, we are prepared to investigate and ask for further accountability.”
After determining that the utilities failed to adequately prepare, respond, and communicate during Tropical Storm Irene and the October 2011 snowstorm, the AG’s Office sought a $10 million fine against NSTAR, $16 million against National Grid, and $4 million against the Western Massachusetts Electric Company, and is anticipating a ruling by the Department of Public Utilities on the imposed penalties.
In January, AG Coakley sent a letter to the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy urging that the new storm response bill include language that would direct all future penalties paid by utilities back to impacted customers through rate credits. The House and Senate passed the bill in July.