Department of Public Utilities to Review the Storm Response of Two Utilities in the Wake of Tropical Storm Irene
DPU Review to Focus on Lessons Learned in Preparation for Winter Storm Season
In response to customer and municipal concerns, DPU will examine how two of the state's investor-owned electric distribution companies -National Grid and NSTAR - responded to Tropical Storm Irene, focusing on the companies' efforts to restore electric power, as well as their communications with affected communities. The DPU will also review whether the companies complied with DPU regulations and fully implemented their Emergency Response Plans, which were last filed in May 2011.
In addition, as a matter of course, the DPU requires all four of the utilities (National Grid, NSTAR, Massachusetts Electric Company and Unitil) to submit a 30-day post-storm report. In that report, the DPU will be requiring that each of the utilities include a section on lessons learned and specifically suggest recommendations that will help them improve performance for the upcoming winter storm season. The DPU noted that WMECO and Unitil successfully restored power to their customers within 48 hours.
"While we understand that Tropical Storm Irene was a rare and severe storm that resulted in hundreds of thousands of outages, the DPU wants to make sure that the utilities restored electric service in a timely and reasonable manner," Chair Ann Berwick said. "The DPU's review will also examine companies' communications with state and local public officials, and dissemination of information to the public, including updates on when power might be restored."
"Throughout the week, I heard from local emergency management officials and utility customers who were dissatisfied with the level of communication about when power would likely be restored. I believe this review is an appropriate next step for the DPU to take," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr.
The DPU's inquiry will focus on compliance with DPU's performance standards for emergency preparedness and restoration of service, including: (1) preparation for and management of the restoration efforts with respect to Tropical Storm Irene; (2) allocation of company resources in the affected communities; (3) communications with state, local municipal and public safety officials, and with the department; (4) dissemination of timely information to the public; and (5) identification of company practices requiring improvement, if any.
For more information on DPU's authority under the General Laws, visit http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/SessionLaws/Acts/2009/Chapter133.
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