Patrick Orders Inquiry Over Utilities’ Storm Response

BOSTON (CBS/AP) — Governor Patrick is calling for the Energy Secretary to launch an investigation into the Utilities response to the storm.

This comes in addition to the investigation into the response to Hurricane Irene currently underway.

The investigation will include hearings across the state.

The governor’s call comes nearly a week after an October nor’easter hit Massachusetts, as more than 85,000 electric customers remained without power.

National Grid reports Friday morning that nearly 45,000 of its customers are still in the dark, concentrated in central Massachusetts and the Merrimack Valley.

Western Massachusetts Electric Co. says more than 40,000 of its customers are out. Springfield and Longmeadow have the highest percentage of customers without electricity.

NStar and Unitil have restored power to all their customers.

Signs of frustration are springing up across the state.

Pepperell resident Pam Richards is one of many who has had enough.

Richards put up a sign outside her home taking a shot at National Grid.

She says she has spent nearly a week using a shaky generator while caring for her 16-year-old son with cerebral palsy, who has several special needs.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens reports

Friday morning there was a power crew working on her street and Pam expected to get her power back by the end of the day.

The storm was blamed for several deaths, including an elderly woman from Brookfield who family members say froze to death.

WBZ-TV’s Karen Anderson contributed to this report.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • 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!


    • casper

      I don’t think we should let them “cut & paste”

      • gramps

        The truth ‘Hurts’…


      • Willow

        casper, I agree, but we have to cut gramps some slack here. He can only come up with one thought out comment per week. It will change in a day or two.

    • sullyinma


      You posted the same drivel on yesterdays article. Try coming up with something new. You sound like a broken record.

    • John

      There was a story that WBZ ran a year or two ago about double poles. If I remeber correctly from that story, the regulation/law only states that double poles have to be removed in a timly manner, and does not state any specific time frame. Because there is no specific time frame, there is no fine or other enforcement means.

  • sean

    that mom should take her son to a hotel or a hospital.

    • The Batman

      That is without a doubt the most callous, thoughtless, unfeeling, uncaring and disgusting comment I have ever heard. You should consider reporting to your local mortuary to have your veins filled with formaldehyde.

    • Willow

      Sick, sick, sick! People like you disgust me.

    • tsal

      you comment is vile

  • sloopjohnB2

    It’s time relieve the woman in charge of National Grid of her duties. Perhaps she can go on vacation again to Hawaii. Her snied remarks made on tv about not controlling the weater are NOT appreciated. It’s time for her to go!!! She’s obviously incompetant.

    • tsal

      I was thinking the same thing —- in my day the heads of utility companies could control the weather. What happened?

      • The Batman


      • The Batman

        That should be ROTFLMAO. Fingers have a mind of the own.

      • Willow

        Yeah, and they could part the sea too. LOL!

      • The Batman

        And didn’t they used to be able to turn lead into gold?

  • Mel

    it might be time to put electrial lines underground.

    • tsal

      Mel a portion of the town I grew up in had them underground and they used to lose power right along with the rest of the town. The place that we go for summer vacation has the lines under ground and we lost power during Irene. And the cost would be staggering. These are freak storms – do the few times we loose power justify the expense??

      Of course if we were farsighted enough – like much of Europe – they would be underground already!!

      • gramps

        WE, you & I paid for Europe’s underground utilites via the ‘Marshall Plan’….

        America planed, financed & rebuilt Europe after WWII.

        Just the ‘facts’ ….

        So sad…

      • tsal

        I’m not sure what that fact proves other than how stupid we are to have designed a better transmission system in Europe than we did here.

  • Ron

    Sounds like the american way to handle things point the finger. I do believe that they don’t do the tree triming anymore. When I was a kid you saw them always cutting back tree so this won’t happen. That is the problem. Everyone is crying about no power do you really think that every wire that is broken someone is available to fix it? Hello it can’t be fixed right away if there are over 600,000 outages.

    • tsal

      hahahaha Ron – you are using common sense – I keep saying you can’t do that – every single person should be first in line :)

  • petem

    I’m confused buy gramps’ comment…are we supposed to blame Beacon Hill or the Utilities? I guess we can do both and probably should, but I would suggest starting with the selfish SOB’s who in their infinite greed have whittled the number of line crews down to the point where we have week long outages this often.
    I will suggest the cities and towns take back the utilities’ for themselves. The corporations (I’m taking to you National Grid) don;t know what they’re doing and worse, don’t care who it affects. Time for them to go.

    • tsal

      Hi Petem – I keep hearing people say we need to have more on staff. I’m all for job creation as you know but am wondering what it would end costing the consumer if the utilities were staffed to handle something like this. It’s an exception – although I know we have had more than usual this year. Where is that fine line between overstaff and understaff. Or is it most cost effective to pay for the out of state help for the occasional major outage?

      As an added comment I’d like to thank all of the out of state workers who are here to help. I know you are too busy to see this but hope someone in your area does thank you!

    • emom

      Petem, agree, Its because of the over inflated salaries of some of the corporate people that has resulted in the loss of linemen.. Also how many times in the last 5 years has your electric bill gone up,, I don’t know about you but ours has gone up 4 or 5 times. and on year it was such a high spike in rates there was an outrage, their answer was , “due to the increased cost ” Really at the same time they laid off hundreds of workers,, wonder was it higher costs or GREED,, I believe it was greed, then all off a sudden 6 months later the cost went down,, BUT only to go back up the next year… How could they do this,,, easy,, BEACON HILL they allowed it and said it was OK each time… compare your bills from a year ago the cost per what watt or what ever they list is up.. and because of the last few storms just wait , we are due for yet another rate hike… what will they use for the reason this time…

      • tsal

        emom – you are right about the overinflated salaries and having to reduce staffing to keep the bottom line the same – or better. So is the answer Have a maximum wage (makes more sense than a minimum) and hire workers back. Pretty much what many of us have been saying for a long time – do something about corporate America – they are killing us.

        In this case I honestly believe that no matter how well staffed as many have wisely said – there will be a first to get power back and there will be a last – but everyone will not get it at the same time. And those who are not prepared literally have only themselves to blame. The media said – on ever major channel and starting four days out – that the storm could equal the ice storm of 2008.

    • FireGuyFrank

      I was in Groveland ten years and could count on my hand the number of outages I had — nothing more than a few hours.

      Thank you Groveland Electric Department, an enterprise fund that turns its budget surplus back into the town’s budget.

  • The Batman

    The above three comments were in response to a nasty comment that appears to have been removed. Thank you WBZ.

    • tsal

      I agree – thank you WBZ

  • Crosley

    storms have been causing electrical blackouts since there has been electrictrification. There is no sure fire way of stopping that from happening. . If there is a serious medical problem in a home shame on the home owner for not having a backup generator or taking the patient to the hospital.

    • The Batman

      Great observation!

    • tsal

      Crosley – absolutely. Wow – more common sense – it’s good to see it here!

  • T.Allen

    Power would be restored sooner, if Nation Grid paid their bills. Some of us that traveled there for the hurricane, our companies are still waiting to get paid. Besides the fact of NON PAYMENT, Nation Grid is trying to “fudge” their books and not pay for all services, when indeed they forget the companies that came from out of state have contracts that are signed, and Nation Grid has to sign off of all monies owed to the companies before we pull out and go home. We feel sorry about not wanting to help, when companies are left 3.5 million dollars in debt due to Nation Grid, we wont come back.

  • valerie

    Do any of you know how much the CEOs and upper executives of these monopolies make? Seriously, I think we would be SHOCKED at what goes into their pockets instead of to the people they are entrusted to care for. Wish Chanel 4 would do THAT story! I have asked them to ever since i saw a blurb on another station about 8 years ago and THEN the ceo was making over a million in salary plus millions in bonus and the executive VP’s were making 750k plus annually! This is what Deval needs to look at , too!

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