As we near the one-year anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene, which left thousands of Easton residents (and nearly a million total Massachusetts residents) without power for days, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is proving that she hasn't forgotten what she calls an "inadequate response" to both the tropical storm and an October snowstorm with similar results.
Coakely is recommending a $16 million fine against the company – the largest penalty ever recommended against a utility in Massachusetts, according to a statement from her office released Thursday.
The penalties, if passed would not affect National Grid customers and would have to be borne on shareholders.
The AG’s Office made the recommendation in a brief filed Wednesday with the Department of Public Utilities (DPU), which has the authority to impose the fine. According to the AG’s brief, National Grid officials violated four separate storm response obligations under the company’s emergency response plan (ERP) including:
- Failing to communicate effectively with customers and municipalities throughout the two major storms;
- Failing to provide timely damage assessments;
- Failing to properly staff for the two emergency events; and
- Failing to respond to public safety calls about downed wires.
“Combined, these two storms left nearly a million National Grid customers without power, some for more than a week,”Coakley said in a statement. “National Grid’s preparation for these storms was inadequate and its response was unacceptable. The company compounded these mistakes with a lack of communication to municipalities and first responders about restoration efforts, leaving many of them in the dark as they were making critical decisions around public safety and emergency treatment.”
To read the full statement from Coakley's office, click here.
Do you think Coakley's recommendation is appropriate?