State fines National Grid for storm response
National Grid is facing a $750,000 penalty from the state of Massachusetts for not preparing and responding properly to a destructive wind storm in October 2017 that left some 300,000 customers without electricity.
In a statement, the Department of Public Utilities said it issued an order for National Grid to pay the penalty based on the findings of an investigation conducted by the agency.
The DPU investigation concluded National Grid did not properly classify the storm, diminishing the amount of resources available to customers in 166 communities. The investigation also found the utility did not adequately communicate with customers or state officials regarding restoration efforts and did not follow its own Emergency Response Plan after the storm.
In 2012, the DPU levied an $18.7 million penalty on National Grid for its handling of Tropical Storm Irene and a snow storm in October 2011, citing “systematic and fundamental failures” regarding the utility’s preparation for both weather events. The Supreme Judicial Court later reduced that fee by $900,000.
National Grid has 30 days to submit a plan to the DPU outlining how it will distribute the penalty to customers. The penalty comes as the utility works to restore gas to 7,100 Rhode Island customers in Newport County whose gas was cut off due to a pressure issue.
In a statement, the utility said it will review the DPU’s recommendation with an eye to updating its storm response procedures.
“Following the October 2017 Wind Storm, and just as we do after every major storm event, National Grid reviewed its response and incorporated those learnings into our storm response plan as part of our commitment to continuous improvement.