tropical storm isaias

Power Companies in the Hotseat: Examining Isaias Response

A panel is examining how utility companies responded to Tropical Storm Isaias, which left hundreds of thousands across the state without power.

The Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, or PURA, has begun drilling down on what happened this past August when thousands lost power for a week or more after Tropical Storm Isaias roared through our state.

The focus of a series of hearings began with the storm response by Eversource in a cluster of Fairfield County towns, including, New Fairfield, Bethel, Ridgefield, Newtown, And New Canaan. 

These towns said they were very hard hit. For instance, Bethel said its police department had to work off generator power for days.

The towns told the panel the biggest issue during Isaias was communication.

They explained how Eversource has a system set up where each town leader has a designated liaison they can exchange information with before, during, and after, a storm event. 

Eversource said on Saturday that power has been restored to approximately 740,000 customers as of 5 p.m. since the storm began.

The town leaders said the system worked well just a few years ago, but this time, the liaisons had a lot of trouble getting answers from their team at Eversource to provide the towns on outages and road blockages.

During cross examination, an attorney for Eversource tried to make the point that its town liaisons in many cases were talking with more than just town leaders.

The attorney’s line of questioning suggested in some cases that led to mixed messages getting back to the power company, and a lack of awareness by the towns as to what work Eversource had actually completed.  

The Eversource attorney was scolded by the panel at one point for asking town leaders questions about documents they said they had never seen before.

PURA, which oversees regulation of Connecticut electric, gas, water, and cable companies, has taken a more aggressive stance when it comes to power company issues.

Earlier in December it announced changes to how it reviews power company rate hikes, calling the current way it’s done not “customer friendly”.

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