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Newton Mayor Setti Warren seeks investigation of NStar after outages

Posted by Derek McLean 
November 2, 2011

By Derek McLean, Town Correspondent

Newton Mayor Setti Warren called today for an investigation into NStar’s performance during the pre-Halloween snow storm and Tropical Storm Irene, saying the utility "missed the mark on all expectations."

With about 250 Newton residents still without power today following the weekend's snow storm, Warren sent
a letter to Attorney General Martha Coakley and Department of Public Utilities chairwoman Ann Berwick seeking a hearing and/or investigation into NStar’s practices.

“I find NStar’s response to each of the recent storms to be entirely insufficient,” said Warren in a press release. “When power is out for days at a time, it becomes a critical matter of public safety. Citizens should be able to expect timely and accurate information, as well as restoration of power in a reasonable period of time, and NStar has failed to meet those marks on numerous occasions.”

Warren said municipalities are expected to communicate with the public and provide information about realistic timeframes for the restoration of service. But the city was unable to get that information from NStar after both recent storms.

On Sunday, the mayor’s office left several messages for the NStar “storm desk,” as it had been advised to do. But it took four hours for representatives to call back, Warren's letter said.

By Sunday afternoon there were around 3,000 power outages in Newton, and NStar's estimated time for restoration of service to all homes was between 5 and 9 that evening.

Later that evening, the mayor's office called NStar's storm desk, but the operator was unable to tell when service would be restored and told Newton officials to contact their representative. The NStar representative finally said half the Newton citizens without power would probably not see it restored until Monday.

On Tuesday, the mayor's office was told power would be restored to all residents by that afternoon. "NStar's website now indicates that power will be restored by Wednesday evening," Warren's letter said.

“I have personally reached out to Mr. May [Thomas May CEO of NStar] of N-Star by telephone and letter several times concerning N-Star issues,” said the letter. “He has never responded.”

For residents who are still without power, a list of city resources and tips can be found at the City Hall website.

Derek McLean can be reached at