Department of Public Utilities To Investigate National Grid's Response to Blizzard
"The Department will take an in-depth look at the company's performance before, during and after the storm to evaluate its overall emergency response, including timeliness of service restoration and responsiveness to municipal officials, and determine whether corrective action is in order," said DPU Chair Ann Berwick.
"I am pleased that the DPU is launching an inquiry into the adequacy of National Grid's preparation for and response to last weekend's snowstorm - which left many local public safety officials minding downed power lines and some customers without electric power for as long as 36 hours," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary-Designate Richard K. Sullivan Jr., who met with and heard the concerns of local fire chiefs earlier this week. Area legislators have also expressed concerns and called for hearings on the utility's storm response.
In November 2009, the Legislature granted DPU increased authority to establish standards for emergency preparation and restoration of service. The DPU may investigate utility companies' compliance with these standards and may impose financial penalties for violations. Should the DPU conclude that a penalty is appropriate, it will consider the gravity of the violation, the appropriateness of the penalty in light of the size of the company, the good faith of the company in attempting to achieve compliance and the degree of control that the company had over the circumstances that led to the violation.
DPU's regulations require utility companies to restore service to their customers in a safe and reasonably prompt manner during all service interruptions and outages. DPU's investigation will evaluate whether National Grid performance was reasonable under the circumstances.
As part of the investigation, the DPU will issue requests for information and documents, and take public comment in National Grid's service territory. In addition, customers will have an opportunity to file written comments, which will become part of the official record of the proceeding. Complaints may be filed through the DPU Consumer Division's online Complaint Form by email to Consumer.Complaints@State.MA.US; or by mail to DPU, Consumer Division, One South Station, Boston, MA 02110.