Thursday, September 15, 2011

Senator Ross Calls for Oversight Hearings Following Tropical Storm Irene Power Outages

Senator Richard Ross (R-Wrentham), with bipartisan support from 16 other legislators, has requested that the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, in conjunction with the Senate Committee on Post Audit and Oversight, conduct oversight hearings regarding the performance of National Grid and NSTAR, following Tropical Storm Irene.

During the week following Tropical Storm Irene, communities across the Commonwealth were faced with lengthy power outages and extensive damages. However, both National Grid and NSTAR failed to adequately respond to safety concerns and effectively communicate with municipalities and customers in a timely manner. Local officials’ calls to these companies went unanswered, which left cities and towns unable to work with them and formulate response plans. As a result, trees remained down, blocking major roadways days after the storm, and live wires lingered in residents’ yards presenting hazards throughout the week. Power was not completely restored in the Commonwealth until late Saturday evening, nearly a full week after the storm.

Senator Ross is requesting oversight hearings to examine the electric companies’ current emergency response plans and to discuss the lack of collaboration and communication with municipalities. Additionally, he requests at least one public hearing that will provide residents with an opportunity to testify with respect to these issues.

“The response of the power companies following Tropical Storm Irene was absolutely unacceptable,” said Senator Ross. “It is imperative that we solve these problems now, before we are faced with an equally damaging storm during the cold winter months when the results could be disastrous.”