First on 10: Raimondo orders review of National Grid’s storm efforts

    Gov. Gina Raimondo has ordered a review of National Grid’s preparedness and restoration efforts in wake of the recent wind and rain storm. (WJAR)

    Gov. Gina Raimondo on Wednesday ordered a review of National Grid’s preparedness and restoration efforts in wake of the recent wind and rain storm that left many Southern New Englanders without power for at least three days.

    “It’s a difficult situation, but I’m going to do everything in my power to stick up for Rhode Islanders,” Raimondo told NBC 10’s Dan Jaehnig during an exclusive segment of "Connect to the Capitol."

    In a news release, Raimondo also said Administrator Macky McCleary of the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers will conduct an "investigative” review.

    "Rhode Islanders should expect the lights to come on when the switch is flipped,” Raimondo noted in the release. “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.”

    The governor went on to say that she visited areas throughout the state and isn’t pleased that many Rhode Islanders still don’t have power.

    By 11:45 p.m. on Wednesday, nearly 21,000 National Grid customers still didn't have electricity. Residents told NBC 10 News that they were starting to get impatient.

    “I share their frustration with the lack of communication from National Grid,” Raimondo said. “I'm directing DPUC to begin a comprehensive review of National Grid's preparation for and response to this storm as soon as they turn power back on for every impacted Rhode Islander. Ratepayers deserve answers."

    Raimondo said the DPUC will soon be holding a public comment session to get information from customers and local governmental officials concerning the outage and subsequent response.

    "As with any significant disruption in electric service, it remains in all our interests to fully examine the reasons for the scope and duration of the most recent power outage," McCleary noted in the release. "This review will also afford us an opportunity to apply any and all lessons learned to future utility emergencies in a concerted effort to build a more sustainable and reliable power grid."

    In response, National Grid spokesman Ted Kresse said the utility company is doing everything it can to get everyone's power on.

    “National Grid’s top priority and main focus right now is getting those Rhode Islanders who still remain without power back up and running," he said. "We have restored 125,000 customers and are committed to getting the rest restored as soon as possible."

    Raimondo said the review, which is set to start as soon as National Grid restores power to all Rhode Islanders, “will include an assessment of utility preparedness as well as the execution of recovery operations. It will also include a review of nationwide best practices and a comparison to other regional utilities performance during the same storm event in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire.”

    Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Dan McKee also criticized National Grid as he toured businesses that have been impacted.

    "It's a lack of preparedness, a lack of ability to respond," he said.

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