Mass. Attorney General Recommends Fine Against Another Utility

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is recommending a record 16-million-dollar fine against utility company National Grid. The fines stem from the company’s response to Hurricane Irene and the October Nor’easter last year. New England Public Radio’s Adam Frenier reports.

 

The fine is the largest ever called for on a utility by the Attorney General. The Department of Public Utilities will make the final decision about any financial penalty and its amount. Coakley says in the hours leading up to each storm, the utility failed to prepare adequately for possible power outages.

“National Grid did not employ the kind of software technology models that would have allowed them to predict severity of storm, length of storm. And quite frankly, they have indicated they used their own expertise, or what you might call the seat-of-the-pants response. We think that is inadequate in 2012 to anticipate where and when these storms will hit”.

After both storms, Coakley says National Grid did not have enough crews available to restore power in a timely fashion. She says they also did not communicate with city and town officials OR its customers. Coakley says state law prohibits fines against utilities from being passed along to ratepayers. Deborah Drew is a spokesperson for National Grid. She says the company will respond to the Attorney General’s proposed fine next week.

“While we acknowledge our storm restoration efforts did not meet our customers expectations, and there is room for improvement, we strongly disagree with the extreme conclusions the Attorney General has drawn. We will address those issues in our August First response to the D.P.U. “

National Grid is the second utility Coakley has recommended fines against this month. she called for a 4-million-dollar fine against Western Massachusetts Electric company for its response to the October Nor’easter. For New England Public Radio, I’m Adam Frenier.