NARRAGANSETT—In the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene, fallen trees knocked out power to many households across the state, including in South Kingstown and Narragansett. As National Grid struggled to bring residents’ homes up to full regular power, many criticized the corporation for its haphazard and lethargic response time.
The Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers (DPUC) will be conducting an examination of National Grid’s organizational preparedness and execution of recovery operations. The review is authorized by state law, but is separate from studies of the state’s overall adequacy in response to severe storms which will be carried out by the National Guard and the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA).
“As with any significant disruption in electric service, it makes sense to fully understand the reasons for the scope and duration of the outage,” said Division Administrator Thomas Ahern. “This review will also afford us an opportunity to apply any and all lessons learned to future emergencies.”
Tens of thousands of Rhode Island residents lost power during and after the storm, some for over a week. Miscommunication between National Grid crews and the individual Public Works departments across the state hindered further response times and organization in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene. Many National Grid workers, brought into Rhode Island from other states to assist in the recovery effort, were unfamiliar with the area and thus action at individual power outages was often delayed.
“I talked to a lot of the federal and state emergency agencies and their biggest concern is if there was a lack of communication with the public early on by National Grid,” said RI Senator James C. Sheehan. “Have they set too many resources outside of the state? Were they able to get crews here? Maintenance, cutting down trees, those are the things that cost money in the here and now.”
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