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Acton Town Manager: "NSTAR was the Barrier Holding us Back from Taking Better Action"

According to Acton's Town Manager, Steven Ledoux, NSTAR's response time for restoring power to Acton and surrounding towns should have been better.

By Patrick Clark
September 1, 2011

Acton Town manager, Steven Ledoux, is “just astounded” at the lack of communication between NSTAR and The Town of Acton during and after Irene.

“The parallel I draw is that if we had a major snow storm and we didn’t start plowing for four or five days after the storm hit, I mean, this is the same thing and it doesn’t make any sense,” said Ledoux.”

Ledoux and Mike Gowing, Chair of the Board of Selectmen, have talked about having NSTAR at a Board of Selectmen meeting or maybe even making it a regional meeting, because the issue of Acton residents and businesses without power for days resonates with a lot of the surrounding towns.

“I am getting a lot of citizen feedback about the process of getting rid of NSTAR and I don’t exactly know the process behind that but it is certainly something to research,” said Ledoux. “The department of Public Utilities really needs to step up as well. Two years ago, representative Benson introduced legislation that passed where companies like NSTAR can be fined something like $100,000 dollars a day for their lack of action.”

According to Ledoux, NSTAR sent out an email during the middle of the storm Sunday, saying that they were not equipped to take a list of problem areas from public officials.

“They wanted citizens to call them directly – which is nuts when you think about it because if you don’t have power, chances are you don’t have a phone or a place to charge you mobile device,” said Ledoux."

The Town of Acton had a list of problem areas ready to be sent over to NSTAR on Sunday, but they had wait.

“NSTAR didn’t seem prepared for this even though there was certainly a lot of notice that the storm was heading for us,” said Ledoux. “They just didn’t seem equipped to handle this.”

According to Caroline Allen, a spokesperson for NSTAR, the company was prepared for this storm.

“We have canceled all vacations for all 3,000 of our employees,” said Allen. “The challenge for us is just dealing with millions of power outages from Washington D.C. up to Maine and so we have got a lot of extra crews working a rotating 24/7 shift.”

Ledoux said Acton town officials were ready to go during the storm Sunday.

“The problem is we can’t do much until we are assured by NSTAR that the wires that are down are without power,” said Ledoux. “Our Municipal Properties worker’s did great and were ready to go but we were just waiting to take action and unfortunately, NSTAR was the barrier holding us up from taking better action.”