BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) - The Department of Public Utilities has imposed nearly $25 million dollars in penalties on Massachusetts utility companies. A DPU investigation concluded that their responses to Tropical Storm Irene and the 2011 October snowstorm were inadequate.
"They have a responsibility to the customers to get restoration in a safe manner and that we are watching and if they don't meet the level of expectation that there are going to be significant penalties," said Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard Sullivan.
National Grid is ordered to pay nearly $19 million dollars, NSTAR $4 million and WMECo $2 million. In each case, DPU investigators were dissatisfied with utilities for their slow response to downed power lines. National Grid and NSTAR were singled out for failing to communicate with towns and customers affected by the storms.
"I think it's been very clear to the utilities that this administration, the Patrick administration, intends to take its responsibilities with respect to requiring that utilities do their job very seriously," said DPU Chairperson Ann Berwick.
The Patrick administration is confident the penalties are working. In late October when Super Storm Sandy hit Massachusetts, administration officials say utilities were far more prepared to handle inevitable power outages.
"They had contracted crews from out-of-state here earlier," said Secretary Sullivan. "The level of communication was better and the response to downed wires was better."
All the fines will be returned to customers affected by the storms and the DPU is closely investigating to make sure that penalties are not passed onto customers.