For Immediate Release - August 30, 2011

Statement of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr. on Post-Irene Utility Repairs

BOSTON - Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - The Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and our Department of Public Utilities (DPU) are closely monitoring the power outage response by utilities, reviewing hourly reports on power restoration efforts. As of 11 a.m. today, there are 249,922 outages, and Western Massachusetts Electric Company and Unitil have restored power to all of their customers. This is down from 9 p.m. on Sunday when the utilities reported a total of 643,734 outages (NSTAR 248,390; National Grid 386,962; WMECO 5,395; and Unitil 2,887).

While the outage numbers were cut in half overnight and the utilities are making progress, we are mindful of the ice storm of 2008, which left many without power for two weeks, and we expect that utility companies will heed lessons learned from that incident to protect their ratepayers from similar hardship.

Public Safety Secretary Mary Elizabeth Heffernan, MEMA Director Kurt Schwartz, and I have fully briefed Governor Patrick this morning regarding the status of power outages and flooding statewide, and the Governor has contacted the CEOs of both NSTAR and National Grid regarding the status of the outages. The Patrick-Murray Administration has conveyed its expectation that the utility companies with outstanding outages will restore all power as expeditiously as possible and - just as important - communicate clearly with their customers regarding expected repair times, including regular updates, so that people are not left wondering and can make appropriate plans. We will continue to monitor restoration efforts over the coming days.

The DPU has the authority to levy fines and investigate any utility it deems has been unresponsive to outages.

The Administration fully understands the enormity of the task at hand for utilities. The number of outages is unprecedented, with the size and intensity of the storm and the fact that it was slow moving accounting for widespread outages. Companies rank outages that interrupt service for 15 percent or more of their customers as "high." In this event, we estimate the service interruptions to be at about 25 percent, making it one of the worst events experienced for both NSTAR and National Grid. Grid alone reported 20 transmission lines down as a result of the storm.

My office has received a number of complaints from customers awaiting restoration of service and we are directing residents and business owners to visit NSTAR and National Grid's web pages.

On behalf of the Administration, I thank the public for its patience and resourcefulness during this challenging time, and thank the Commonwealth's utilities for their efforts to restore power statewide as quickly as possible.


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