In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, investor-owned utilities appear to be cutting the excuses and putting greater energy into restoring both electric power and the confidence of customers. It’s a welcome change from last year’s storms, after which the state’s two major power companies — NStar and National Grid — racked up millions of dollars in fines for their lengthy outages and poor efforts at communicating with rate payers.
This time around, Governor Patrick made the point sharply — and directly into the ears of the utilities’ CEOs — that the state wouldn’t settle for subpar performance. The message seemed to get through, prompting the utilities to mobilize extra crews and reach out to their customers. Still, at the height of the storm, about 370,000 customers, including households and businesses served by Unitil and Western Massachusetts Electric, lost power. Yet by late afternoon Tuesday, that number had been cut roughly in half.