There are new developments in an exclusive NBC Connecticut investigation into the handling of a power surge after Tropical Storm Isaias. A state agency has now gotten involved.
NBC Connecticut Investigates first brought you the story of one neighborhood dealing with thousands of dollars’ worth of damage in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Isaias. The damage happened after the power was restored. The chairman of a panel that oversees Connecticut utilities, in an exclusive interview, said it will take a closer look at the situation.
Neighbors on Long Hill Drive in Somers said their power company left them in the dark when a surge destroyed tens of thousands of dollars of big ticket items.
“HVAC system, air conditioning, electrical outlets, dishwasher…” explained Kacie LaChapelle.
Residents said this was caused by a repair crew working for Eversource early in the morning August 17, dealing with lingering issues from Tropical Storm Isaias. Eversource offered the neighbors actual cash value for the losses, not what it would cost to replace the damaged items.
“I think I had over a dozen contractors that I had to beg to come out here just to make this house livable again,” said Daryl LeCours.
Eversource gave a statement on its damage claim policy without taking questions:
“We encourage customers to first contact their homeowners or renters insurance company. And then if a customer does decide to file a claim with us, a member of our claims team is assigned to that case and goes to work thoroughly evaluating the situation. While I can’t provide specific customer information, for privacy reasons, I can tell you that all decisions to approve or deny a claim are based on the facts, and if payment is issued, we follow standard claims industry practices, which includes any depreciation of items being claimed, if that applies in their case,” said Tricia Modifica of Eversource.
Four of the five neighbors took the Eversource payment, deciding after months it was easier to move on.
The chair of the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, or PURA, after seeing our exclusive investigation, said the legislature needs to look at evening the playing field for consumers in cases like this.
“I think that that’s something we’re going to have to reckon with in Connecticut…PURA stands ready to work with our colleagues in the legislature to make sure that the balance between the utilities and the ratepayers in Connecticut is adequately set going forward,” Marissa Gillett said.
Gillett also said it appeared Eversource did not file a report of this incident with PURA, as required by state statute.
“My engineers tell me that our accident reporting system does not have a report corresponding to this, so we have initiated discovery as part of our storm investigation on this topic.”
Gillett said she recognizes the utilities are going to want to be heard out on changing property damage liability. Regarding this case Modifica added, “We understand chairman Gillett’s concerns and will work cooperatively with PURA to provide information regarding this situation.”