Op-Ed: Eversource Storm Response and Proposed Rate Increase

August 29, 2020

Op-ed as it appeared in the Brookfield Community Gazette

By Craig Miner

Eversource failed ratepayers through an irresponsible storm recovery operation. This, coupled with a drastic rate increase, justifiably drew public outrage across the state.
This mismanagement by Eversource’s upper management in no way diminishes the gratitude and respect my constituents and I have for the men and women working 16-hour days to restore emergency services, access as well as power across the region.

Lessons (hopefully) learned:

Eversource’s communication breakdown created lost time and grossly underutilized out-of-state resources. We need more familiar in-state personnel on the ground in each municipality during these events to help coordinate EMS, public works resources and restoration crews. This can be done with per-diem retired employees with local Eversource experience.
The result of this poor planning and mismanagement were tens of thousands of constituents that went a very long time without electricity—in some cases for no reason. Opening every town road in the district must be priority number one to ensure public safety. Restoration of power to key municipal and public buildings should take priority over Eversource chasing statewide restoration goals with any administration. Eversource’s current system is patently unfair and unsafe. I also heard that deploying current technology similar to reverse 9-1-1 to manage restoration in real-time, along with reopening the Western District garage to store assets for more timely distribution are two suggestions and I agree with them.

Now, let’s focus on our bill:

The state’s Public Utilities Regulatory Agency (PURA), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) and the legislature all play a role in how much we pay. The balance between “recoverable”[ratepayer] and “non-recoverable” [shareholder] needs to be reconsidered by all parties previously mentioned.
As we reconsider penalties and reimbursements, executive compensation packages, power purchase agreements, consumer nonpayment protection and commitments to “green” energy, what is determined to be recoverable [ratepayer] by PURA will weigh heavily on the rate increases in our bill. The legislature, myself included, will need to weigh all of these important public policy decisions as we craft legislation to be voted on in the next month or next year