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News Apr 9, 2013 - 10:17:50 AM

CL&P Should Be Penalized in Storm Recovery Request for Withholding Critical Documents from PURA Investigation

By Attorney General George Jepsen's office

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HARTFORD, CT - Attorney General George Jepsen today filed a petition with the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) asking for additional penalties against Connecticut Light and Power (CL&P) in its recently filed storm recovery request.

Attorney General Jepsen alleges that the company impeded the state regulatory authority’s ability to fully investigate the storm restoration efforts after the October Nor’easter in 2011 by failing to completely disclose important information during last year’s storm response investigation. For this conduct, the company should be penalized through rejection of a portion of its request to recover storm related costs, the Attorney General said.

“As the restoration from the October Nor’easter proceeded, CL&P committed to the Governor, municipal officials and its customers that it would restore 99 percent of all homes and businesses in each town it served by midnight on Nov. 6,” said Attorney General Jepsen. “The documents produced are relevant to whether the Nov. 6 restoration projection was reasonable and whether CL&P knew that estimate was attainable.”

Attorney General Jepsen continued, “CL&P’s failure to provide complete and accurate documents undermined PURA’s investigation. The company should be penalized for this conduct in a manner sufficient to deter it and others from engaging in this type of behavior in the future.”

At the request of Governor Dannel P. Malloy in November 2011, Attorney General Jepsen commenced an independent investigation into CL&P’s storm response, which operated concurrent with the PURA investigative docket and continued after PURA issued its final decision in August 2012.

In addition to the efficiency and effectiveness of the utilities’ restoration efforts, one of the central concerns in both investigations was the nature and accuracy of the information provided to the public about restoration efforts and estimates for the restoration of electric service to the hundreds of thousands of customers without power. A particular focus of PURA, and the public at large, was CL&P’s 99 percent restoration estimate by midnight on Nov. 6.

During the PURA proceedings, the Attorney General sought from CL&P complete and unredacted documents, including notes and emails, related to CL&P’s response to the October Nor’easter. CL&P neither objected to the requests nor indicated that its production was in any way incomplete.

After the PURA investigation’s completion, CL&P eventually produced documents to the Attorney General that should have been produced during the proceedings in response to the various document requests, but were not. CL&P failed to comply timely, fully and accurately with the information requests, effectively preventing PURA’s access to the facts necessary to conduct a full and proper investigation and reach accurate conclusions.

Among the numerous documents CL&P failed to timely disclose were:

· A handwritten note by CL&P’s senior official in charge of restoration in the hard-hit Central Division, dated Nov. 1, saying she provided a 99 percent restoration estimate of Nov. 9 at 6:00 p.m. if she received 20 additional crews.

· Handwritten notes dated Nov. 1, made by another senior CL&P official who surveyed area commanders for their 99 percent restoration estimates. The notes indicate many commanders projected restoration dates beyond Nov. 6 for the towns in their area, and as late at Nov. 9 for Hartford.

· An email, dated Nov. 3 at 11:59 p.m., from a CL&P day shift commander for the Simsbury area work center providing revised restoration estimates for a few towns in the Farmington Valley that were requested by superiors, while noting that they are “Quite the work of fiction…I took a swag [scientific wild-assed guess]…I don’t think this should be shared with any town official as it is not really a good picture of what we are doing.”

· An entry log of the CL&P Emergency Operations Center, from the morning of Nov. 4, saying, “Do not promise by community…some communities may be over 1% [unrestored] by midnight Sunday making us unable to reach our goal the way it is currently stated.”

· Handwritten notes of the CL&P Central Division Commander from a 6:00 a.m. call on Nov. 6 noting that she had reported to her superiors that even if she received expected additional crews, many towns would still have 50 percent outages by midnight Nov. 6 and would not be 99 percent restored until as late as Tuesday, Nov. 8.

· A requested report from CL&P to the Governor’s Office of expected restoration times, sent at 8:49 a.m. on Nov. 6, which appears to completely ignore the projections reported at 6:00 a.m. that morning by the Central Division Commander and containing no restoration projections beyond Nov. 7.

· Handwritten notes of a senior CL&P commander working in the Simsbury area work center entitled, “Storm Alfred Restoration Observations,” which included the following: “[m]ore severe damage, widespread,” “[n]o acknowledgement of damage extent when providing restoration projections (mgmt. v. public goals)” and “99% for ea. town@ same time unrealistic.”

Tropical Storm Irene caused more than 700,000 customers to lose power, some for as long as nine days. The October 2011 Nor’easter interrupted electric service to more than 800,000 Connecticut residents, many for as long as 11 days.

In its final decision last August, PURA concluded that CL&P’s performance in the aftermath of the 2011 storms was “deficient and inadequate” in a number of areas, including “development and communication of restoration times to customers” and warranted regulatory sanctions. PURA retained the authority to determine the appropriate amount of CL&P’s storm recovery for the 2011 events in a future proceeding.

Assistant Attorneys General Michael Wertheimer, John Wright and Michael Cole, chief of the Office of the Attorney General’s Antitrust and Government Program Fraud department; former Assistant Attorney General Laura Martella; Paralegal Holly MacDonald; and Associate Attorney General Joseph Rubin assisted the Attorney General with this matter.

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