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Carroll School of Management

Steve Holliday

Chief Executive Officer, National Grid

Excerpt from remarks to Boston College’s Chief Executives’ Club of Boston

October 24, 2013

TAKEAWAY: Preparing for extreme weather

And that’s a little bit of story about National Grid, frankly. We’re very proud of the way that we respond in storms. They are very challenging. Employees go the extra mile in a situation that’s unbelievable.

But in 2011, we were caught off guard with Hurricane Irene, because in many ways, our planning for storms was also about, let’s look backwards about what used to happen, and let’s make sure we’re better prepared for the future. And of course, looking backwards isn’t enough.

The planning didn’t take account of the huge logistical challenges that now come from some of these storms that impact multiple parts of our business at the same times, across three states. We hadn’t seen anything like that before in our history.

Learning from that, though, helped us prepare for the infamous “Superstorm Sandy,” whose anniversary we’re about to, I think, respect. I almost was going to say celebrate. Just a year ago, a terrible tragedy, without any question. We hadn’t seen anything like that before. Super is the right word. Unprecedented. Damaging gas systems and electric systems at the same time. Irene, and the northeaster in October 2011, took us 79 and 127 hours to restore 90 percent of the outages here. It was 41 hours for Sandy, and 32 for Nemo. Much better performance.