POLL: National Grid Facing Unprecedented Fines

Are the fines imposed against National Grid sufficient?

As we near the one-year anniversary of (and nearly a million total Massachusetts residents) without power for days, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is proving that she hasn't forgotten what she calls an "inadequate response" to both the tropical storm and an

Coakely is recommending a $16 million fine against the company – the largest penalty ever recommended against a utility in Massachusetts, according to a statement from her office released Thursday.

The penalties, if passed would not affect National Grid customers and would have to be borne on shareholders.

The AG’s Office made the recommendation in a brief filed Wednesday with the Department of Public Utilities (DPU), which has the authority to impose the fine. According to the AG’s brief, National Grid officials violated four separate storm response obligations under the company’s emergency response plan (ERP) including:

  • Failing to communicate effectively with customers and municipalities throughout the two major storms;
  • Failing to provide timely damage assessments;
  • Failing to properly staff for the two emergency events; and
  • Failing to respond to public safety calls about downed wires.

“Combined, these two storms left nearly a million National Grid customers without power, some for more than a week,”Coakley said in a statement. “National Grid’s preparation for these storms was inadequate and its response was unacceptable. The company compounded these mistakes with a lack of communication to municipalities and first responders about restoration efforts, leaving many of them in the dark as they were making critical decisions around public safety and emergency treatment.”

To read the full statement from Coakley's office, click here.

So Foxborough, we want to know ...

Today's question: Do you think Coakley's recommendation is appropriate?

Dennis Naughton July 27, 2012 at 12:25 PM
Kudos to Attorney General Coakley. Financial penalties are the only language that such monopolistic utilities understand. It is particularly appropriate that the shareholders shoulder the burden, since they, not consumers, are in a position to do something about how the company operates in the future.
Jeanne Dyer July 27, 2012 at 01:32 PM
I agree with the AG holding the Electric Grid accountable. When I heard last fall that the company was shorthanded because of a recent reduction in force, I was angry. Profit via job cuts required ignoring meteorologists' warnings of the probability of an unusually high incidence of hurricanes -- a cynical calculus. Hurricane Irene was an expensive storm for many people in Foxboro. For me, it meant paying for a hotel room, losing a freezer full of food, eating meals in a restaurant, etc. At least I had choices but others did not. It was days before anyone I know saw a utility truck. Everyone deserved more from Electric Grid than they got. Given his statements at the time, Republican Senator Brown should be fully supportive of Democrat Martha Coakley's government oversight and $16 million fine but I don't know that anyone has asked him. Remember that last fall Brown was forced to be quite the evangelist for government programs (FEMA, etc.) when reassuring the public. I, for one, am glad we have government holding business accountable.
Srinivasan Sankar July 27, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Will Foxboro town get anything out of the fine payment?
Dennis Naughton July 27, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Too often people are critical of government without having a grasp of what it does. This is just one case of how government regulation of corporations served the public.
Dennis Naughton July 27, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Pose that question to Kevin Paicos, Foxborough's town manager,


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