State Rep. Bryan Hurlburt (D-Ashford, Tolland, Willington), in a prepared statement, said a state report critical of how CL&P handled prolonged power outages following last year’s two major storms “confirms what most people in eastern Connecticut already knew.”
The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) found CL&P’s response to Tropical Storm Irene in late August 2011 and the October 2011 nor’easter to be “deficient and inadequate.” The findings could result in financial sanctions against the company.
Almost 700,000 residents and businesses lost power for up to two weeks from Irene, while just six weeks later a record 8 00,000 suffered outages from the freak October snowstorm, many lasting up to 10 days.
During this year’s legislative session, Rep. Hurlburt states, he successfully pushed for a new law to hold utility companies more accountable for their performance before, during and after storms.
“Our area of the state was hit the hardest and many people who had to wait the longest to get their power back also depend on electricity to run their well pump for water, and that quickly became a health issue,” Rep. Hurlburt said.
“Clearly the status quo regarding the utilities performance was unacceptable. Frankly, the only way we are going to see improvement from the utility companies is by threatening their bottom line, and that is exactly what we did,” he said.
Public Act 12-148, An Act Enhancing Emergency Preparedness and Response, which was signed into law by Gov. Malloy in June 2012, will:
- Establish standards for the utility, telecommunication and cable companies during emergency events;
- Establish penalties in the event the companies do not meet these standards;
- Require utility companies, telecommunication companies and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) Service Providers (i.e. phone service via cable companies) to submit emergency plans for restoring service;
- Create a “microgrid” pilot program to be administered by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection;
- Study the feasibility of requiring backup power for telecommunications towers and antennas;
- Encourage coordination of underground infrastructure projects; and
- Require the development of procedures to expedite the process of road-clearing following an emergency.
“Mother Nature is unpredictable and last fall’s double dose of her wrath was certainly one for the history books,” Rep. Hurlburt said. “That experience led to this legislation and should leave us much bettered prepared when the next big one hits.”
Posted August 2, 2012
Related link: Remarks by the PURA, at the bottom of which is a link to the draft report (in PDF format, which requires Acrobat Reader to open), which was expected to be finalized by Aug. 1, 2012 http://www.ct.gov/pura/cwp/view.asp?A=4144&Q=508102
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