Raimondo orders review of National Grid’s preparedness, restoration efforts

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — After a late October storm left tens of thousands of Rhode Islanders without power – many of whom are still in the dark days later – Gov. Gina Raimondo is calling for a review of the state’s leading energy provider.

At last check, our Power Outage Database showed about 30,000 National Grid customers without power in Rhode Island nearly three days after the storm hit.

Raimondo’s office on Wednesday said the governor has directed Division of Public Utilities and Carriers (DPUC) Administrator Macky McCleary to assess National Grid’s storm preparedness and restoration efforts.

“Rhode Islanders should expect the lights to come on when the switch is flipped. National Grid owes Rhode Island families and businesses a swift response when power goes out and thoughtful planning to prevent outages when storms are forecasted,” Raimondo said in a statement Wednesday.

To ensure National Grid’s attention is focused on the ongoing restoration, Raimondo’s office said the review will begin once all homes and businesses are back online.

“I’ve visited communities around our state to assess the damage from this week’s storm and observe Grid’s restoration efforts,” Raimondo continued. “Too many Rhode Islanders are still without power, and I share their frustration with the lack of communication from National Grid.”

“Ratepayers deserve answers,” she added.

Raimondo’s office said the review will also compare National Grid’s performance before and after the storm to that of other utility companies in the region, as well as look at nationwide best practices.

Raimondo isn’t the only elected official criticizing National Grid as frustration grows over the pace of restoration efforts. He said municipal leaders and business owners have told him National Grid’s communication has been “insufficient and inconsistent,” and said he will introduce legislation next year to require “prompt and adequate customer service to ratepayers.”

“I am very concerned that Massachusetts was able to resolve their 282,000 total outages down to 34,000 while in Rhode Island, our 154,000 total outages have only been reduced to 38,000,” McKee said. “That ratio doesn’t work for Rhode Islanders.”

Tim Horan, National Grid’s president in Rhode Island, defended the company’s efforts on Wednesday, but also acknowledged it had been a “difficult time.” The utility says it has more than 470 crews, made up of more than 1,100 workers, working on the problem.

“This event will go down as one of the most disruptive storms to hit Rhode Island’s electrical system,” Horan said.