Scott Brown asks utility executives to outline hurricane preparation plans

Senator Scott Brown today wrote to NStar and Unitil executives, asking the utility services to outline their plans in preparation for potential power outages in Massachusetts next week from Hurricane Sandy.

The request came a day before those utilities are supposed to provide their plans to Governor Deval Patrick.

Brown’s involvement highlights a potential conundrum for the Republican incumbent and his reelection opponent, Democrat Elizabeth Warren.

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They are slated to participate in the final debate in their US Senate campaign next Tuesday, just after the storm—now past Cuba—is projected to hit southern New England. A natural disaster could command the airwaves at the same time the debate is scheduled.

Brown spokesman Colin Reed said, “We’re looking forward to the debate and hoping the storm doesn’t make landfall.”

Warren spokesman Kyle Sullivan said: “It’s premature to speculate on the debate. Obviously, the first priority needs to be public safety.”

The debate at WGBH-TV in Boston is being sponsored by a media consortium that includes The Boston Globe.

“A year ago this week, an early season snowstorm dropped inches of snow across many parts of the Commonwealth that impacted many of our citizens,” Brown wrote in his letter to the utility executives. “We are now aware of a hurricane that could create disruptions, and I want to make sure there are proper plans in place to ensure that people of Massachusetts don’t endure unnecessary extended outages again.”

The senator added: “With a powerful hurricane potentially approaching, and as I look to share the most up-to-date information with my constituents, I look forward to your prompt response to my request.”

Earlier today, during his monthly appearance on WTKK-FM, Patrick said he expected strong plans from the utilities by a deadline Friday.

“We’ll be watching them and watching the storm through the course of the weekend,” Patrick said.

Both Hurricane Irene and a freak snowstorm last October were the impetus for a bill Patrick signed into law this August.

It aims to improve emergency response services in Massachusetts by requiring public utility companies to establish a well-staffed call center during major storms, and to coordinate with the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency when implementing an emergency response plan, among other things.

This afternoon, the governor convened a conference call from his State House office with the administration’s first responders.