State Rep. Bryan Hurlburt, who represents Ashford, Tolland and Willington, CT in the General Assembly, is backing a number of measures designed to force utilities such as CL&P to drastically improve their restoration performance following outages.
His recommendations come on the heels of Storm Alfred, which left hundreds of thousands of Connecticut residents, businesses, health care centers, schools and other critical services without power, in some cases for as much as nine days.
Power outages affected health care facilities’ access to records, knocked out cell phone towers, caused untold dollars to be lost by businesses, and put pressure on cities and towns to provide food, showers, warmth and sleeping quarters for large numbers of their residents.
Rep. Hurlburt, and others, have said that there should be a special session of the Legislature to get new laws in place as soon as possible.
Hurlburt’s district – Willington, in particular – was one of the hardest hit by the historic nor’easter of October 29-30, 2011.
In a statement released today (Nov. 14), Hurlburt said a Massachusetts law that levies stiff fines on utility companies for not meeting established benchmarks for restoration has been very successful and he wants Connecticut to follow suit.
He also wants rebates to be credited to customer bills if a utility remains out for over five days.
“They only way we are going to see improvement from the utility companies is by threatening their bottom line,” Rep. Hurlburt said.
“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 becomes a health issue. Status quo is unacceptable,” he added.
Rep. Hurlburt also supports requiring emergency generators at certain critical sites such as senior housing and gasoline stations.
He also wants to see utilities be required to file annual emergency response plans with the state and set up standardized communication systems with all municipalities.
“Hurricane Irene in August turned out to be pre-season practice,” Rep. Hurlburt said. “The freak October nor’easter was game time and frankly, CL&P dropped the ball.”
Among the criticisms of CL&P’s handling of power restoration Rep. Hurlburt cites:
- Not arranging for outside crew help until after the storm hit
- Crews sitting idle for hours waiting to be dispatched
- Investing in billing and call systems upgrades, but not in frontline resources
- Failing to pay contractors for Hurricane Irene work in a timely fashion
- Reduced power line-tree trimming efforts over the past decade
Posted Nov. 14, 2011
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