Connecticut, Eversource reach deal over Isaias response

Image by ds_30 from Pixabay

By PAT EATON-ROBB Associated Press

Connecticut officials announced a settlement Friday with Eversource over the electric utility’s response to Tropical Storm Isaias in 2020, which left thousands of people without power for days.

Under the deal, Eversource has agreed to return $103.4 million to consumers and provide more accountability during future storms, Gov. Ned Lamont and Attorney General William Tong announced. Eversource also has agreed not to apply for a rate increase until at least January 2023, for rates that would not go into effect until at least January 2024, the governor’s office said.

“With this settlement, ratepayers get some well-deserved relief in the short-term, and in the long-term they get more security that something like this won’t happen again,” Gov. Ned Lamont said in a statement.

The storm hit Connecticut on Aug. 4, 2020, with rain and high winds, leaving roughly 800,000 utility customers without power at its peak.

Local officials complained that an inability to contact the utility made it difficult to tell residents when or where crews would be coming to restore power. Many towns did not see a utility truck for more than two days and some people were in the dark for over a week.

Under the agreement, $65 million in Eversource funds are to be immediately returned to customers in the form of credits on their December and January electric bills. The company said $10 million will be used to assist customers who are having difficulty paying their utility bills.

The average customer will see a total credit of $35, the governor’s office said.

The agreement also will require Eversource to create a new Connecticut-based president of its state operation, Connecticut Light & Power, to improve local control and to add new seats to its governance board for representatives from Connecticut.

Eversource officials, who had defended their storm response and said power was restored as quickly as possible, also have agreed not to appeal a $28.4 million penalty levied by Connecticut regulators, who found the response to Isaias inadequate.

Eversource spokesperson Tricia Modifica said the deal is a reflection of the company’s deep commitment to Connecticut, and will provide tangible relief as customers continue to deal with COVID-19 and prepare for the winter.

“We learned valuable lessons as a result of Tropical Storm Isaias and we’ve carried forward numerous improvements that have changed how we communicate during storms,” she said. “We are intent on winning over ‘hearts and minds’ in Connecticut by demonstrating our commitment to both customers and Connecticut leadership, at a time when we must work together to deliver a new clean energy future.”

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