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National Grid vows to improve communication with developers to circumvent delays

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National Grid plans to do a better job communicating with housing developers about their project plans before they start construction, an effort the company hopes will prevent unexpected delays.

The energy company decided to improve its approach after hearing feedback from a group of builders and developers who attended a meeting June 25 at the Dulles State Office Building in Watertown. The meeting was arranged to address concerns about project delays that have occurred at several active project sites in the north country. Those who attended the closed-door meeting included representatives from Norstar Development USA of Buffalo, DGA Builders of Rochester, Lawler Realty of Sackets Harbor, Tisdel Associates of Canton, and Purcell Construction Corp. and GYMO Architecture, Engineering and Land Surveying, both Watertown.

National Grid spokeswoman Virginia J. Limmiatis — who attended the June meeting — said the discussion focused on how the energy company can proactively help developers understand criteria needed for projects to avoid mistakes. Mrs. Limmiatis said most delays are caused by a misunderstanding of project requirements. Local National Grid representatives Jerry Haenlin and Todd Froysell, who work at the company’s Watertown location at 21265 Route 232, will now meet with developers to review project criteria before construction begins.

“One of the changes we’re going to be implementing over the next several months is having National Grid be a part of the early stage planning,” Mrs. Limmiatis said. “Our representatives will help work out the scope of the project so builders have an understanding of what to do to get the project online as soon as possible. A project’s ability to go from phase one to phase 10 is based on the customer fulfilling requirements. That’s the single reason projects are completed on time and on budget.”

Another cause of project delays in the past two years, Mrs. Limmiatis said, has been natural disasters that have diverted workers.

“The number of storms that we’ve faced in the past two years — hurricanes Irene, Lee and Sandy — haven’t helped,” she said. “There are times that resources are dedicated to the immediate needs of putting customers back online quickly.”

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