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Lt. Gov. McKee to Introduce Legislation to Improve Utility Company Storm Response

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 winter 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 activated.

Community liaisons: 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, visit www.riema.ri.gov.

Media Contact: Andrea Palagi | andrea.palagi@ltgov.ri.gov | (401) 222-2371

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