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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Department of Public Utilities Penalizes National Grid for 2017 Storm Preparation and Response

Department of Public Utilities Penalizes National Grid for 2017 Storm Preparation and Response
Utility To Pay $750,000 Penalty

BOSTON – January 22, 2019 – The Department of Public Utilities (DPU) today issued an Order that imposes a $750,000 penalty on National Grid for inadequate storm preparation and power restoration efforts related to an October 29, 2017 windstorm that affected over 330,000 National Grid electric customers in 166 communities. The investigation, which included public hearings for impacted residents, businesses, and local officials, found that National Grid failed to comply with DPU guidelines and regulations as well as the company’s own Emergency Response Plan.  

“The Department of Public Utilities is committed to ensuring electric ratepayers across the Commonwealth are provided with a high level of service, especially during times of extreme weather events,” said DPU Chairman Angela M. O’Connor. “Following a comprehensive investigation which focused on preparations before the storm, restoration efforts after the storm, and communications with affected communities, the Department found that National Grid’s storm response did not meet existing protocols and did not provide the required restoration efforts to its ratepayers. The Department will continue to work with utilities across the Commonwealth to ensure that storm response plans are focused on increasing reliability for ratepayers.

As part of its investigation, the DPU found that National Grid did not properly classify the severity of the storm, and as a result, fewer resources were available for customers and communities which ultimately affected the restoration efforts.  Additionally, the DPU found that the company did not adequately communicate with its customers or public officials.  These communications problems hampered restoration efforts and, among other things, kept customers from having accurate information about expected restoration times.

In accordance with the Order, National Grid has 30 days to submit a proposal to the DPU outlining the mechanism by which the company will disperse the penalty of $750,000 to customers. In addition to the monetary penalty, and in an effort to help protect ratepayers, the DPU has required National Grid to change its Emergency Response Plan to include updated communication protocols designed to improve future restoration efforts.

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