September 10, 2013
Boston – Senator Richard J. Ross (R-Wrentham) testified today in support of a bill he filed to increase the accuracy and efficiency of communication during severe weather emergencies. The bill was being addressed by the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy at a public hearing at the State House.
“This legislation is crucial to keeping our municipalities informed on the status of restoration efforts in their communities,” said Senator Ross. “When severe weather strikes, we must make every effort to protect residents of the Commonwealth who find themselves in increasingly vulnerable situations. By maintaining a constant line of communication with accurate and current information, we can assist our local officials in maintaining the safety and security of their communities.”
Over the past several years, the Commonwealth has faced a slew of severe storms, ranging from hurricanes to blizzards to tornadoes, all leading to statewide power outages. While attempting to navigate these difficult times and ensure the safety of their communities, local officials were constantly confronted inadequate, and often incorrect information, as well as inefficient lines of communication.
As part of their emergency response plans, public utility companies are currently required to provide each municipality within their service territory with at least one employee to serve as a community liaison. That community liaison is tasked with providing information to the municipality on the number of individuals affected by the outage. Senator Ross filed legislation to enhance this requirement by further opening up the lines of communication between the community liaison and local officials of the municipality. Community liaisons would also be required to update municipal officials on the estimated return of service, as well as the status of work being performed in the community, three times per day.
Senator Ross noted several examples of municipalities and constituents receiving inaccurate information on restoration times and service being performed in their communities. He hopes that this bill is reported favorably by the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, in order to increase protections for Massachusetts residents and communities in the event of future severe weather events.
Please contact the office of Senator Ross with any questions or concerns at (617) 722-1555 or Richard.Ross@masenate.gov.