Governor calls on General Assembly to hold National Grid accountable for outages

NEWPORT, R.I. (WLNE) – Governor Gina Raimondo was joined by city and state leaders Tuesday in Newport to send a message to National Grid that January’s week-long gas outage was unacceptable.

“When we first got word from National Grid that gas was gonna be cut off from thousands of Newport homes, it was the coldest night of the year,” said Newport Mayor Jamie Bova.

A report released last week by the State of Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers said a valve malfunction, system failure, and high demand all contributed to the outage.

“The people of Aquidneck Island, the people of Rhode Island, deserve affordable, reliable, resilient energy and electricity,” said Governor Gina Raimondo.

The ordeal cost National Grid $25 million in restoration costs, which they could recoup through rate hikes.

“The ratepayers in the state of Rhode Island will not and should not have to bear the cost for their mistakes,” said Governor Raimondo.

The Governor is now urging the General Assembly to pass legislation to hold the company accountable. She pushed for similar legislation back in April that would require National Grid to make a plan each year and submit it to the DPUC. It was held in committee.

“In Massachusetts, the DPUC can fine National Grid, and I believe would fine National Grid in a circumstance like this. Same thing in New York. In Rhode Island, we’re not allowed to do that.”

District 31 Representative Marvin Abney said the legislation didn’t pass because there was no “underlying document that would have put us on the path to doing that”. But with the report in hand, they’re confident it will pass.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio did not respond to our request for comment.

National Grid declined to comment.

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