State utilities seek to evade fines from Hurricane Irene, 2011 snowstorm

Hurricane Irene claims the life of a tree. Photo: Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro
Hurricane Irene uprooted trees, among other damage. Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro

Seeking to overturn penalties totaling $22.8 million for their performance during two 2011 storms, including Hurricane Irene, utility companies argued to the state’s highest court Monday that the Department of Public Utilities did not vet evidence before issuing the fines.

“The department’s finding is based upon sweeping conclusions that merely indicate what certain customers, a number of customers, said in either letters of complaint or during the public hearings in the community, a recitation of what they said, with no validation, no follow-up and no reference to significant record evidence …. that led to a contrary conclusion,” Robert Keegan, an attorney for Western Massachusetts Electric and NSTAR, told the Supreme Judicial Court.

WMeco was fined $2 million, NSTAR was fined $4.1 million, and National Grid was fined $18.7 million after what the DPU said was an insufficient response to storm damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene and a late October snowstorm.

“The utilities’ complaint here is not that they didn’t have evidence in the record, but that they didn’t balance it the way that the utilities propose that this court should, and they reached determinations that the utilities do not like,” said Deputy Attorney General Chris Barry-Smith.

After a 2008 ice storm left some residents without power for extended periods, the state passed a law requiring the DPU to set standards for storm response, and the state argued the penalties had been in accordance with that 2009 law.

“The utilities’ failings during the 2011 storms left thousands without power and warranted these record fines,” Attorney General Martha Coakley said in a statement.

Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MTA announces service changes for Sunday

The MTA has announced service changes ahead of Sunday's People's Climate March, which will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Riders using…

Local

NYPD launches Twitter account for L train

The NYPD recently launched a Twitter handle dedicated to the L train and its riders. According to @NYPDLtrain, officers went underground Thursday morning to hand…

Local

Bushwick community space offers activists a place to…

A new Bushwick community space offers community activists to meet, create, learn and throw back a few cold ones. MayDay, located 214 Starr Street in Bushwick,…

Local

Activists gearing up for Sunday's "historic" People's Climate…

If all goes according to plan, more than 100,000 people will gather near Central Park West on Sunday morning and march through midtown to raise…

Movies

Kevin Smith makes peace with the Internet

I was thinking about Ain't It Cool News and Harry Knowles last night, wondering if anyone from Ain't It Cool had reviewed my new movie…

Movies

Art imitates life in 'Swim Little Fish Swim'

There's a certain comfort to be taken in finding that young artists are still moving to New York and trying to make it — and…

Movies

Review: Terry Gilliam's 'The Zero Theorem' is better…

Terry Gilliam's latest, "The Zero Theorem," concerns a reclusive malcontent (Christoph Waltz) struggling with the search for the meaning of life.

Music

Esperanza Spalding and a being called Emily get…

Esperanza Spalding is about to spiral off in a brand new direction that may or may include an alter ego named Emily.

NFL

Oday Aboushi ready for increased role, and to…

Oday Aboushi might feel comfortable enough to engage in some trash talk the next time he is on the field.

NFL

Giants vs. Texans: 3 things to watch

The Giants host the surprising Texans (2-0) in what may already be a must-win game for Big Blue.

NFL

Eric Decker misses practice again, could miss Monday

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker missed practice Thursday as he continues to rehab a hamstring injury suffered last Sunday.

MLB

Derek Jeter still focused on baseball as final…

Derek Jeter has effectively hid his emotions for 20 years in the Bronx.

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.

Style

3 things we love from Day 1 of…

The highlights from Day 1 of Milan Fashion Week.

Sex

Why don't more couples use condoms?

  Call it the “condom moment.” That’s the name the authors of a new study have given to the pivotal conversation every couple should be…

Sex

Need an idea for a first date? Here's…

Picture your idea of a nice first date. Is it dinner and a movie? A visit to an interesting museum exhibit? Instead, an expert on…