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Patricia Burke: Raimondo’s PUC pick needs scrutiny for National Grid connections



Various news outlets have reported that Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo has nominated former National Grid lawyer Laura Olton to chair the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission (RIPUC).

The Providence Journal reported a small but easily remedied issue – Olton currently lives in Massachusetts, and will need to establish residency in Rhode Island to accept the job.

But residency is not the only concern requiring attention. The RIPUC is in the process of reviewing National Grid’s plan to surcharge ratepayers to replace all gas and electric meters with controversial two-way wireless electronic meters and infrastructure.

As part of the Rhode Island proceeding, National Grid submitted what seems to be fraudulent results reporting for the Worcester National Grid smart meter pilot program. Massachusetts residents have submitted two bills to the legislature calling for an investigation of the pilot results reporting. (See here and here.) The RIPUC has already received documentation outlining inaccuracies and demonstrating that the smart meter plan is based on corrupt data.

Citizens in every state face an uphill battle when politicians accept money from utilities, and when utilities and wireless companies dominate the advertising budgets of news outlets.

The other problem is that Governors tend to appoint individuals who are supportive of their agendas. Agencies fall into line to support a specific economic or political agenda, rather than operating as independent agencies offering neutral oversight. This includes state health agencies. Laura Olton is by no means the only utility industry insider stepping through the revolving door. Regulatory capture is the rule and not the exception.

Regardless of whether Laura Olton is appointed, if the RIPUC and/or the Rhode Island General Assembly do not investigate National Grid’s fraudulent reporting, citizens will see their grid modernization plans based on racketeering rather than responsible stewardship, with a costly, not-secure electric grid increasing pollution with high voltage transients. Rhode Island could halt the abuse of human rights, health and environmental damage unfolding due to inadequate regulation of the wireless industry.

This is not a question of energy policy, it’s a question of whether or not National Grid is lying and whether they are lying to, or for, regulators and politicians.

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Patricia Burke is a meridian yoga teacher advocating with activists across the country and around the world for new RF exposure limits based on biological standards.

She can be reached at