SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

November 5, 2012

Our view: Utilities' performance improves after Sandy

(Continued)

Part of the improved performance can be attributed to the early warnings on Sandy. Weather forecasters had been predicting for days that Sandy would be a huge storm that would have a widespread impact on the East Coast.

Utilities had pre-positioned repair crews across the Northeast, ready to begin work as soon as the storm abated. That was in sharp contrast to last year’s blizzard, after which wide areas of Massachusetts and New Hampshire remained dark while repair crews drove in from other parts of the country.

In Massachusetts, Reed was much more visible, even taking calls on the radio to advise individual customers on when their power might be restored.

Utilities have also been more aggressive in trimming tree limbs that had posed a threat to power lines.

One other reason for this newfound dedication to quick repairs may be the massive fine of $16 million that Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley recommended for National Grid’s poor performance after the October 2011 snowstorm. The Department of Public Utilities is expected to rule on the proposed fine within the next few weeks.

The performance of National Grid and other utilities certainly has improved this time. But the fine should stand, not only as punishment for the truly abysmal performance last year, but also for its clear value as a motivator of utilities’ current behavior.

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