BOSTON – The Senate today passed a bill to address emergency service response of public utility companies in Massachusetts as a result of the widespread power outages in communities across the state during Tropical Storm Irene in August and the snowstorm in October, Cape and Islands State Senator Senator Dan Wolf (D-Harwich) announced.
“I am proud to have supported a bill which will hold the utility companies accountable, create incentives for improvement, and support the front line utility employees who work tirelessly to keep us safe during the most challenging times,” said Senator Wolf.
The bill requires public utility companies to provide twice-daily estimates to customers on when electricity will be restored following a 24-hour damage assessment period, and to set up a call center during a major storm. The call center must be located in Massachusetts and must have sufficient staffing to handle increases in calls.
Utilities must also report storm outages to the state and designate a community liaison in each community when implementing an emergency response plan. The bill also requires utilities to designate staff at the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency to help coordinate statewide response.
Additionally, utilities will pay an assessment charge to help the Department of Public Utilities pay for storm investigations. The cost of this assessment cannot be passed on to customers. The bill also ensures that any penalties assessed on utilities for violation of emergency preparation and response will be credited to customers.
This bill must now be taken up by the House of Representatives before going to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.