Coakley To Request Investigation Into Utilities’ Storm Response

BOSTON (CBS) – Attorney General Martha Coakley will request a formal investigation into the utilities’ response to recent storms, her office announced Wednesday.

Hundreds of thousands of Bay State customers were left without power for days after two recent storms (Tropical Storm Irene and the Nor’easter this past weekend).

In a press release, Coakley said that it was “essential” for the utilities to be prepared for the storms.

“Following the October 29 storm, our office has received a variety of complaints regarding the power restoration process by the utilities. Right now, the utility companies’ focus should be on getting power back online for individual households and maintaining strong communications. However, once power has been restored throughout the Commonwealth, we will petition the Department of Public Utilities to initiate a formal investigation into the companies’ restoration efforts, including their preparedness for this storm as well as their communications with local officials and customers in its aftermath.”

The press release added that an investigation into last December’s storm resulted in a $2 million settlement with National Grid.

Executives from National Grid, NSTAR and Unitil were taking calls and heat tonight on Nightside with Dan Rea.

WBZ-TV’s Jonathan Elias reports

They thanked customers for their patience, but for many including the Governor they’ve run out of patience.

The mayor of Newton feels the same way. In a two page letter — Setti Warren is venting to the Attorney General about NSTAR’s response to the storm saying, “NSTAR’s performance during the recent storms missed the mark on all expectations causing substantial strife.”

For their part, all the utilities said the same thing: this storm was far from normal.

  • Don

    People need to wake up to reality and stop playing blame games over power outages.

    About 10 years ago I was outraged that National Grid (or whoever they were at the time) hacked my trees up near the power lines. I wasn’t the only “victim” on my street. But I got over it when I stopped losing power during thunderstorms. It is called “preventive action” and way less costly than the consequences of false and selffish “arbor love” thinking these utility companies have unlimited resources to respond to these problems.

    Wake up people! Or accept the cost of burying power lines underground. You won’t want that cost added to your electric bill! Some towns are more lame over this issue than others. But you make your bed. And no I don’t work for the utility companies……

    I never lost power 35 miles west of Boston in the hurricane or this last storm while towns next to me still have outages.

    • gramps

      “No power yet”?……Blame ‘Beacon Hill’ & the DPU, not the Utilities!….

      Ever notice those ‘double poles & the partial poles suspended in the air?….Our ‘Pol’s in concert with the DPU have been looking the ‘other way’ for decades as far as enforcing pole removal regulations!

      There was a time, not so long ago, that when a pole needed replacement…..It was replaced, completely!

      The utilities had a work force large enough for it’s work load….So, when a storm hit these crews were put on restoring service to the ‘customer’…

      The ‘utilities’ slowly started to reduce their work force by cutting the # of ‘recon crews’, which intern, improved their ‘bottom line’……


      Making the utilities do the ‘whole job’ by completely removing old infrastructure will bring their workforce back up to ‘snuff’ so we won’t need to depend on Alabama, West Virginia et al for service!

      Rate Payers are not just paying for the out of state crews to restore their service but also their hotel/motel rooms plus 3 squares a day!….Just so these “Utilities can increase the return to stockholders”.

      If ‘Deval’ wants answers, he only has to look in the mirror blame himself & the ‘POL’s of yesteryear.

      Don’t let them ‘cut & kick’ a pole for more than 30 days!


  • IronManCC

    Some politicians and others obviously need to get a CLUE – Storms come, trees come down, taking power lines, transformers, poles & other equipment with them. Even without the trees, damage can still occur. Working with high voltage electricity is not a piece of cake, even under ideal conditions, and when the damage is SO wide spread, yes, folks, it can take days and in some cases WEEKS before things are fully repaired and power restored.

  • tsal

    She’s posturing. Ridiculous. This gets more ridiculous by the minute.

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  • Matt

    I thought she already looked into the utilities after the hurricane? I was out 4 days. Then I also thought she looked into them after the ice storm a few years ago. I was out 6 days. Now she is looking into them again. I have been out since 5pm on Saturday. I may get it back tomorrow night. What were those findings? And what is being done to prevent it in the future. I don’t really have a problem with being out of power for so long it is the lack of information as to why that I have the problem.

    • tsal

      The answer is simply – file a complaint with Mother Nature. Meanwhile – be prepared and when a storm like this is forecast take any extra steps you can.

  • Willow

    This indeed was and is an inconvenience for everyone. We can’t all have our own personal utility worker every time the power goes out. Our power finally got turned back on and we are very thankful, but we were also prepared for it to be out much longer. I have medical issues and made it through this fine because I was prepared. Extra warm clothes, plenty of flashlights and batteries, and non-perishable food. If I had a well I would have had plenty of bottled water on hand also. Why won’t people admit that they fail to prepare for an event such as this, and blaming someone doesn’t make it any better. A year or so ago people were asked to boil water because the water source was contaminated. Everyone was up in arms over that too, and thought the government should provide bottled water, which they did. Give me a break, how lazy can Americans get? Hopefully, when the forecast calls for another storm that might have the potential for power outages such as this one, we will all be a little better prepared.

  • Mark

    Where was her concern in the ice storm, hurricane. Political posturing is right. Investigation nothing will happen. They’ll donate some money to her next campaign, business as usual until the next storm. Same with Deval earlier in the week he was singing their praises only day 5 brought him to complain. What a farce!

  • massman

    I’m completely confused as to how this is political posturing?

  • Jay B

    Next time one of our Utilities Unions are striking to keep the Comapny from chopping skiilled jobs and sending customer service jobs oversees- Maybe they could get some support. Verizon workers went on strike to save thier current pay, and benefits and to stop the company from laying off skilled workers to hire cheaper laboer. They got NO support from the community. People wanted them to shut up and be happy they had jobs. Well this is what happens. National Grid is the same union. They all cut skilled labor jobs and hire unskilled workers at a lower rate and then everyone cries because they cant get phone service or power. Thats whats shocking…

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