PROVIDENCE - The Senate Committee on Housing and Municipal Government held a second hearing on emergency storm response by utilities at the State House on Thursday, Sept. 29. Representatives from National Grid, Verizon, and Cox Communications were on hand to testify before the committee.
Timothy F. Horan and Michael Ryan, president and vice president of National Grid respectively, made a presentation to the committee that explained how the utility company prepared for Irene, how they handled Irene, how much it will cost and what lessons they learned for the future.
Horan said to the committee that the cost to restore power to Rhode Island after Irene will exceed the $22.1 million that had been set aside in a contingency account for that purpose. The amount of the final tab is still being tallied.
During the presentation, Horan noted that restoration work for National Grid was prioritized, as it was laid out in the company’s plan for a natural disaster. Hospitals, nursing homes, police and fire stations were noted as “critical customers” in the presentation.
According to Horan, four of the five hospitals that lost power in the state were up and running again by the night of the storm, Aug. 28, with Newport Hospital being the only exception. Newport was back on line the following day, said Horan.
Sen John Tassoni Jr. (D-22 Smithfield, North Smithfield), who is the head of the committee, was very displeased with National Grid’s cooperation with cities and towns, especially the ones he represents, during the storm and immediate aftermath.
One thing Tassoni recommended to Horan was to have a regional contact for a certain number of municipalities, in an effort to facilitate communication between towns and utilities. He said that every time he tried to contact National Grid during the storm he had to speak with a different representative.
“That is something we’re definitely taking a look at,” said Horan in response.
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