National Grid faces complaint from family of woman it killed

Unsavoury face of Utility industry
Shamed Utility company National Grid is to be sued by the family of the New Hampshire woman it killed when the Utility shut off her power earlier this year.
Kay Phaneuf, 53,died after her respirator stopped functioning due to the power cut-off. Her account had a medical protection notice intended to prevent such a shutoff in the past, but it had lapsed.
National Grid, whose Executives are being investigated after they filed expense claims including wine and international travel, was cleared of misconduct in the Phaneuf case by the New Hampshire regulator. This may have been the result of an intensive lobbying and PR operation by the Utility.
But the disgraced company had little to celebrate yesterday when Patrick Jones, an attorney representing Phaneuf’s family, said he expects to file a complaint against the utility soon. He declined to comment further.
National Grid announced separately it is to sell its New Hampshire energy business in a deal that could mark the start of more disposals in the US.
National Grid, whose revenues dropped 10.5% in the latest financial year, became a little less national after selling its Granite State Electric and EnergyNorth businesses in New Hampshire to Liberty Energy, part of Canada’s Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp.
Broker Killik & Co said the New Hampshire business had made poor returns and the price was reasonable.
Killik said Grid was awaiting more regulatory rulings from other US states and was limiting spending to maintenance.
The broker said: “Given the poor regulatory climate, we believe there is a reasonable chance the whole US business will be sold in time.”
The Utility Commission report said: The death of Ms. Phaneuf was tragic. However, the facts revealed during the investigations by the Salem Police Department, the Rockingham County Attorney, and commission staff do not indicate that National Grid acted in violation of applicable regulations.”
The commission concluded there was no reason for it to take any action against the utility.

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