NSTAR challenges AG's call for storm penalties
The following is a reaction by NSTAR to AG Coakley's call for storm penalties:
NSTAR Challenges Attorney General’s Call for Storm Penalties
(BOSTON – August 7, 2012) NSTAR Electric is voicing disagreement with Attorney General Martha Coakley’s recommendation of financial penalties for the company in the wake of two devastating storms that swept through the region last fall. NSTAR was one of the first investor-owned utilities to restore power to its customers in both storms and was able to send crews to assist other utilities in the October snowstorm. NSTAR is proud of the efforts of its employees who worked around-the-clock to respond to customers and fully complied with its DPU-approved storm response plan.
“We disagree with the Attorney General’s recommendation given the physical challenges of rebuilding and restoring the electric system following a natural disaster,” said Werner Schweiger, President of NSTAR Electric. “The Attorney General is alleging performance violations based on standards that do not exist. We’re hopeful that the DPU will make its final decision based on established standards and actual performance.”
Although service outages are always difficult for customers to endure, NSTAR Electric customers fared better than others in Massachusetts and throughout New England because the company invests heavily in maintaining the distribution system to a high level of performance. In addition, NSTAR Electric’s efforts to clear vegetation back from its wires are aimed at minimizing customer outages to the extent possible and are an important aspect of the company’s storm defense. Trees are the number one cause of power outages and pose a hazard to the electric system, public safety and homeowner property.
“Storms are always an opportunity to identify areas of improvement; however, for penalties to apply, the company would have had to deviate from its storm response plan and that just didn’t occur in these storms,” Schweiger added. “There are no shortcuts. The work to repair the overhead poles and wires is dangerous and painstaking and must be completed location by location and town by town, which takes time. We have not reached a stage where technology is resistant to storm damage.”
NSTAR has consistently applauded the work of all if its employees during the storms, including the efforts of its largest labor union, UWUA Local 369 as well as the Steelworkers Local 12004 which represents NSTAR Gas employees who stepped up to perform non-traditional functions to speed restoration.
NSTAR is the largest Massachusetts-based, investor-owned electric and gas utility. The company transmits and delivers electricity and natural gas to 1.4 million customers in Eastern and Central Massachusetts, including more than one million electric customers in 81 communities and 300,000 gas customers in 51 communities. NSTAR is a Northeast Utilities company (NYSE: NU). For more information, visit www.nstar.com.