Hartford, CT- Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) and Senator Cathy Osten (D-Sprague) last week wrote to the leaders of the General Assembly’s Energy and Technology Committee asking that they convene an informational public forum to examine Eversource Energy’s seeming lack of proper storm preparedness and lack of a quick, effective storm response in advance of and following the damaging windstorm of October 29-30 which left more than 100,000 Connecticut residents in the dark for multiple days – particularly residents of eastern Connecticut.
“Once again, too many customers were left in the dark without adequate communication from Eversource,” said Senator Duff. “To make matters worse, residents of New Hampshire received automated telephone updates regarding power restoration efforts in Connecticut and vice versa. I believe that a review of Eversource’s storm response is particularly warranted in light of Eversource’s new request of state regulators to approve a three-year, $336.8 million rate increase for the company, which would raise the average Connecticut consumer’s electricity bill by 6.8%.”
“A review by the Energy and Technology Committee is necessary to ensure that the state, utilities and municipalities are following the 42 pages of recommendations of the Two Storm Panel, which I served on six years ago,” Sen. Osten said. “Reviews of natural disaster responses should occur on a regular basis here in Connecticut.”
In recent years, Senate Democrats led passage of storm response legislation requiring the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) to study and then establish minimum performance standards for emergency preparation and response for every electric company and gas company in Connecticut. These standards addressed:
Minimum staffing and equipment levels for outage planning and restoration (linemen, technicians, etc)
Targets for recovery and restoration of service based on the proportion of affected customers
Mutual aid agreements with out-of-state companies to bring in surplus workers as needed
Communication between utilities and customers, including during non-business hours, and to notify the public of service restoration estimates and dangerous conditions
Communication between and amongst utilities and government officials
Tree-trimming practices to reduce outages due to fallen limbs
Safety standards for employees of each utility, mutual aid crews and private contractors
Noncompliance with PURA’s performance standards could result in penalties of up to 2.5 percent of an electric or gas company’s annual distribution revenue, approximately $25 million in the case of Connecticut Light & Power. The penalties would be assessed as a credit on customer bills, and would not be recoverable by the utilities through increased rates.