Legislative Action Required to Improve Electric Utility Performance

November 8, 2011

I know all too well about the hardships you have had to endure in the aftermath of last weekend’s snowstorm. In this day of technological advancements in communication and asset optimization, there is no excuse for the delayed restoration of power that plagued so many parts of our state. After the disappointing response by CL&P to power outages caused by the storm, I am dedicated to making sure that state government and Connecticut’s utility companies are better prepared to respond to storms of any magnitude in the future. My office and I have been in constant contact with state and local officials and the utilities in an effort to restore electrical power and telephone service to you as quickly as possible.

Those efforts will continue until every last light in Connecticut is back on. Once power is completely restored, I will turn my attention to investigating what went wrong and what needs to change to avoid a similar crisis in the future. To that end, I will be pushing the Energy & Technology Committee to take up legislation on the matter as soon as possible.

In the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene and prior to the hearings that took place to determine the causes of lengthy power restoration having to do with that storm, I made several recommendations to the Co-Chairs of the Energy & Technology Committee. I have again requested that these ideas be included in a bill that will be voted on during the next legislative session. I plan to share these ideas with Governor Malloy and request he implement those he can by Executive Order. My proposals would require the electric utilities to:

  • Share with municipalities their disaster recovery plans and provisions to cooperate with local tree crews and first responders;
  • Make public a comprehensive strategy regarding contracting with repair crews from out of state to supplement their Connecticut crews; and
  • Provide portable real time GPS tracking transponders in each subcontracted out-of-state repair truck to supplement tracking efforts already in place in in-state trucks. Information would be available in real time to utility management and available to the public with a built in time delay to assure the safety of the crews and their ability to work efficiently.
  • Empower local and municipal electricians to be able to turn off power to streets with downed power lines so that tree crews can immediately begin work on clearing to provide access for first responders as well as power restoration line crews.

Many other ideas, including performance penalties and mutual aid agreements, have been proposed by both Republicans and Democrats. All of these proposals are worthy of legislative debate to determine how to best ensure that preparedness and response capabilities are improved before future storms. We must evaluate each of these measures and act appropriately so that effective disaster recovery plans are set in place and power restoration can be completed within a more concise schedule. If I can be of any assistance, please feel free to email my office directly at [email protected] or call 800-842-1421.