State report slams utility’s response to October wind storm

Police in Narragansett direct traffic as utility crews work to restore power from a powerful October 20, 2017 wind storm. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

WPRO News

A state report blames National Grid for a poor response to the October, 2017 wind storm that left up to 144,000 customers without power, in some cases up to five days.

A report by Rhode Island’s utility regulator, the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers found that other utilities in the region restored power more quickly than National Grid, and that the company failed to arrange additional resources in a timely manner and “failed to activate and staff a decentralized location to manage out-of-state resources when they became available.”

“The delay was not because crews weren’t working quickly enough, it was because Grid’s management failed their customers,” said Governor Gina Raimondo (D-RI) in a statement issued by her office. “They failed to communicate. They failed to adapt.”

Raimondo said she “will do everything in my power” to prevent any rate increase that National Grid may seek, “unless it includes significant investment from Grid’s shareholders in modern infrastructure to reduce the number of outages in future storms and speed up restoration efforts.”

“The October 2017 storm was yet another indicator of the extreme and sometimes unpredictable conditions we are now facing in the region,” said National Grid in a statement.

“No matter how powerful, frequent or unpredictable the weather, we are committed to getting the lights back on for our customers, neighbors and communities as safely and quickly as possible,” the statement said.

“We look forward to engaging more with the Division in a fact-based discussion about the October 2017 storm and exploring how we can continue to improve our restoration plans and performance. We are dedicated to addressing public safety and minimizing the occurrence and duration of storm-related outages.”

 

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