Isaias Response, Skyrocketing Electric Bills Being Reviewed

The Energy and Technology Committee’s virtual forum gets underway at 10:30 a.m. Thursday.

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After hundreds of thousands in the state lost power, now Eversource’s response to Tropical Storm Isaias, as well as rate hikes back in July, will be part of the focus of a legislative forum on Thursday.

“We really want the ratepayers to understand what they’re getting and what they’re paying for,” said Sen. Norm Needleman, D – Deputy President Pro Tempore.

Among the first invited to speak will be Eversource Energy executives, including CEO Jim Judge.

Also expected to take part are representatives of United Illuminating, state regulators, local leaders and others.

“I think there is a need to address accountability, reliability,” said Needleman.

Recently released emails to the state’s electric utilities show UConn’s Outage Prediction Modeling team upping the damage potential in the days and hours leading up to Isaias hitting.

But even their estimate released on the day the storm struck - of 3,000-6,000 statewide trouble spots – fell well short of what actually happened including in Suzzane Groton’s neighborhood in Danbury.

“We were out for seven days and it’s a bit ridiculous,” said Groton. “To have this happen, where was the preparedness?”

The UConn team blames several factors for the underestimation including the effect of large numbers of vulnerable trees.

In a statement an Eversource spokesperson wrote in part:

“The UCONN model is just one of many data points we use – along with information from the National Weather Service and other forecast services.”

Eversource says four days before the storm it had predicted 10,000 damage locations, higher than UConn, but still only half the actual amount.

While the company has defended its storm preparation and response, others are not so sure.

“I’m hoping we don’t even go through this again,” said Groton.

As legislation is being worked on, Needleman says there is a need for possible reimbursement for people including for lost food or medicine during Isaias.

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