PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Today, Lt. Governor Dan McKee
announced his plans to submit legislation that will improve the emergency
preparation and response of utility companies operating in Rhode Island.
McKee, who serves as Chair of the Rhode Island Emergency
Management Advisory Council, modeled this legislation after Massachusetts law
with input from the Division of Public Utilities & Carriers (DPUC),
municipal leaders, the League of Cities and Towns and the Rhode Island
Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA). The legislation will be submitted to the
General Assembly in the 2018 session.
“Rhode Island already experienced one mishandled storm this
year and bearing in mind tomorrow’s forecast, the time to pass legislation is
now,” said McKee. “This is a common-sense plan to hold the utility company
accountable and protect Rhode Island families and businesses in the case of an
emergency. If the utility company can abide by similar guidelines in
Massachusetts, they should do the same in Rhode Island.”
The legislation will include five main provisions:
Performance standards: The
DPUC will establish performance standards for acceptable emergency preparation
and response for investor-owned utility companies. Failure to meet the
standards will result in penalties of up to $100,000 daily per violation.
Emergency response plans:
Utility companies will be required to submit annual emergency response plans to
the DPUC. Failure to file will result in a fine of $500 per day. If the utility
company fails to follow the emergency response plan, the company may not
recover its storm-associated costs by charging the ratepayers.
Credits for ratepayers: All
fines paid by utility companies for violating this legislation will be credited
back to Rhode Island ratepayers.
RIEMA liaison: Investor-owned
utility companies must designate an employee to be present at the Rhode Island
Emergency Management Agency when the State Emergency Operations Center is
Investor-owned utility companies must designate an employee to serve as a
community liaison for each municipality. Each community liaison will provide
cities and towns with at least 3 outage reports per day.
Over the next 48 hours, the Lt. Governor’s Office will be
working with RIEMA and the Governor’s Office to help provide consistent storm
information to Rhode Islanders. For winter weather updates, warming
center/shelter information and updates on closings, delays and parking bans,