McKee: New bill would improve utilities’ emergency response

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Lt. Gov. Daniel McKee is pushing for legislation he says will improve the emergency response of utility companies, following a weeklong natural gas outage that affected the Newport area.

National Grid says a dramatic pressure drop forced it to suspend service to thousands of customers in Newport and Middletown in late January.

The Democrat is asking lawmakers to pass the Utility Emergency Response Bill to require utilities to meet performance standards for emergencies, submit emergency response plans and designate state and community liaisons. Fines paid by utilities for violating the requirements would be credited to ratepayers.

McKee says he modeled it after a Massachusetts law, which allowed the state to issue a $750,000 fine to National Grid in late January for its response to a destructive 2017 wind storm.

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