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PURA: CL&P Storm Response 'Deficient And Inadequate'

Utility ordered to come up with "heightened state of readiness" in anticipation of future storms. Both Irene and freak October snowstorm evaluated. Gov. Malloy applauds decision, says storms were a "nightmare." Hard work of line crews recognized.

The Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) Tuesday said Connecticut Light & Power's responses to both Tropical Storm Irene and the freak October 2011 snowstorm were "deficient and inadequate."

PURA also recognized the hard work of the line crews and others who worked long hours under difficult circumstances to help restore power.

PURA said that "more disciplined and thorough leadership and communication" would have made the work of the line crews and others more effective.

The regulatory authority said that their findings, the result of a series of public hearings and an investigation that included a detailed review of documents and legal briefs, will be taken into consideration when PURA rules on the next rate request from CL&P. T

he findings also will be taken into consideration when it comes to "any request from that distribution company for recovery of costs it incurred as a result of the storms."

Draft decision provides "incentive" for better job next time

At the current time CL&P has no rate requests pending before PURA, nor has it submitted any request for recovery of storm-related costs, PURA said.

PURA said in a prepared statement that "the draft decision also provided an incentive for CL&P to strengthen its preparation for future storms," with PURA noting that it will “consider and weigh the extent to which CL&P has recognized its shortcomings and taken concrete, measurable steps to embrace the need for aggressive, extensive restructuring of both its attitude toward storm management and establishment of new practices for execution of future storm response.”

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a prepared statement that he "applauded" the draft decision.

Last year's storms a "nightmare"

“Last year’s storms were a nightmare for Connecticut residents, and the response from Northeast Utilities was unacceptable. Today, PURA is echoing the earlier findings of the Two Storm Panel, the Witt report, and hundreds of thousands of Connecticut residents who experienced extended power outages after each storm," Malloy said in a prepared statement. "It is clear that Northeast Utilities did not prepare for outages of this magnitude and did not build adequate capacity to respond.  I applaud PURA’s careful deliberation on this issue."

“We have taken steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again.  Earlier this year, the legislature passed my comprehensive storm package that increased standards and benchmarks for utility company both before and after a storm or other disaster."

"Those standards will ensure that we have enough boots on the ground to adequately prepare for and respond to whatever mother nature throws our way next.”

"Meaningful penalties" provided for in draft decision, attorney general says

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepson said in a prepared statement that the draft decision provides "meaningful penalties" on CL&P in the form of "an appropriate reduction" in the company's "allowed return on equity in its next ratemaking case."

“In assessing an appropriate reduction to CL&P’s allowed return on equity in its next ratemaking case, ordering immediate and ongoing improvements and in retaining jurisdiction to approve an appropriate level of storm costs, PURA has given CL&P strong incentives to improve its performance to ensure a greater level of storm preparedness in the future," Jepson said in a prepared statement.

“This draft is a positive step toward ensuring better quality of service and fair compensation for residents, ratepayers and municipalities.”

Below are the full statements issued Tuesday from Connecticut Attorney General George Jepson, Gov. Dannel Malloy and PURA.

This information was released Tuesday by Connecticut Attorney General George Jepson:

Attorney General George Jepsen Tuesday issued the following statement on the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority’s draft decision in its investigation of public service companies’ response to the 2011 storms:

“Today’s draft decision clearly echoes our case in this proceeding and would assess meaningful penalties on Connecticut Light & Power for the company’s deficient response to Tropical Storm Irene and the October Nor’easter.

“In assessing an appropriate reduction to CL&P’s allowed return on equity in its next ratemaking case, ordering immediate and ongoing improvements and in retaining jurisdiction to approve an appropriate level of storm costs, PURA has given CL&P strong incentives to improve its performance to ensure a greater level of storm preparedness in the future.

“This draft is a positive step toward ensuring better quality of service and fair compensation for residents, ratepayers and municipalities.”

This information was released Tuesday by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy:

Governor Dannel P. Malloy released the following statement concerning the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) decision finding CL&P’s response to Tropical Storm Irene and the October nor’easter to be ‘deficient and inadequate’ and providing for possible sanctions against the company:

“Last year’s storms were a nightmare for Connecticut residents, and the response from Northeast Utilities was unacceptable. Today, PURA is echoing the earlier findings of the Two Storm Panel, the Witt report, and hundreds of thousands of Connecticut residents who experienced extended power outages after each storm.  It is clear that Northeast Utilities did not prepare for outages of this magnitude and did not build adequate capacity to respond.  I applaud PURA’s careful deliberation on this issue.

“We have taken steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again.  Earlier this year, the legislature passed my comprehensive storm package that increased standards and benchmarks for utility company both before and after a storm or other disaster.  Those standards will ensure that we have enough boots on the ground to adequately prepare for and respond to whatever mother nature throws our way next.”   

Public Act 12-148, An Act Enhancing Emergency Preparedness and Response, which was signed into law by Governor Malloy last month, will:

  • Establish standards for the utility, telecommunication, and cable companies during emergency events and also establishes penalties in the event the companies do not meet these standards;
  • Require utility companies, telecommunication companies, and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) Service Providers 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 the coordination of underground infrastructure projects; and
  • Require the development of procedures to expedite the process of road-clearing following an emergency.

The Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) will hold a statewide emergency preparedness drill next week.  Additional information is forthcoming.

Information on Governor Malloy’s Two Storm Panel report and the Witt report is available at www.ct.gov/malloy.

This information was released Tuesday by the Connecticut Public Utility Regulatory Authorit

PURA Issues Draft Decision on Performance of CT Utilities in Two Fall Storms

Final decision scheduled for Aug. 1 after review of comments and oral arguments from parties

The Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) today issued its draft decision regarding the performance of the state’s electric distribution companies and other public service companies in preparing for and responding to last fall’s two storms – Tropical Storm Irene and the October snow storm.

Parties to this matter – Docket Number 11-09-09  – will now have the opportunity to file written comments on the draft and make oral arguments in front of PURA before a final decision is issued August 1.

In the draft decision, PURA concluded that the state’s largest electric distribution company, Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P), was “deficient and inadequate” in several areas of its preparations and response to the two storms and the power outages they caused.

PURA also said that these findings will be taken into consideration when it rules on the next rate request from CL&P and on any request from that distribution company for recovery of costs it incurred as a result of the storms.   At the current time CL&P has no rate requests pending before PURA, nor has it submitted any request for recovery of storm-related costs.

The draft decision also provided an incentive for CL&P to strengthen its preparation for future storms, with PURA noting that it will “consider and weigh the extent to which CL&P has recognized its shortcomings and taken concrete, measurable steps to embrace the need for aggressive, extensive restructuring of both its attitude toward storm management and establishment of new practices for execution of future storm response.”

The draft decision also ordered CL&P to develop a plan to establish a “heightened state of readiness” in preparation for future storms and to take steps to address issues such as tree trimming, communications and securing mutual assistance.

PURA’s draft decision recognized the efforts of line crews and all others who worked to restore power in the two storms, concluding that “through more disciplined and thorough leadership and communication, their collective work could have been more effective and efficient.”

The PURA draft decision did not specify potential sanctions for other public service companies, including United illuminating (UI), the state’s second largest electric distribution company.  PURA did, however, reserve the right to take UI’s storm performance into consideration when reviewing any future request by that company for recovery of 2011storm-related costs.

Background on PURA’s Storm Review

In keeping with its regulatory responsibilities, PURA launched an initial investigation of the performance of Connecticut’s electric distribution companies and other public service companies – regulated gas, water and telecommunications companies – following Tropical Storm Irene and late expanded this review to include the October snow storm.

PURA has conducted detailed reviews of the performance of public service companies following major storms since Hurricane Gloria caused major power outages in 1985.  These reviews include a review of:

  • Emergency Planning
  • Preparation for the specific storm
  • Restoration Performance
  • Plans for mutual assistance and supplemental staff
  • Communications with customers and public officials
  • Adoption of best practices and recommendations following previous storm events.

The PURA reviews are conducted under authority granted in Connecticut General Statutes § 16-11, which charges PURA with oversight of company equipment and operations in order to ensure safe, adequate and reliable service. 

As part of its review of the performance of public service companies in last fall’s two storms, PURA requested documents from these companies, held public hearings where witnesses were cross examined, and analyzed consultants’ findings and legal briefs from respective parties. 

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