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Regulators Hear From Eversource About Response To Tropical Storm Isaias

Ryan Caron King
Connecticut Public

State regulators met Monday to hear directly from utility Eversource about its response to Tropical Storm Isaias. At issue were potential fines for the company due to a storm response that was highly criticized in a draft decision issued by the state’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) last month.

In the decision, PURA cited what it characterized as multiple failures in Eversource’s response to Isaias, which knocked out power to about half of the utility’s customer base in August last year. 

Some of those power restorations took days, with Eversource ultimately estimating about $230 million in storm-related costs. 

In March, state regulators issued a highly critical draft decision, saying Eversource was responsible for communication breakdowns with customers and towns and failed to secure cleanup resources in a timely manner. 

Craig Hallstrom, president of Eversource’s electric operations, acknowledged Monday that the utility could have communicated better. But he said locking in crews several days in advance of a storm is a bad idea.

“Our electric utility counterparts in the West will not want to send their crews to Connecticut every time a hurricane is forming 300 miles to the south of the Bahamas to sit on our system and wait for the event before it is known whether and to what extent actual damage [will] occur,” Hallstrom said.

David Ball, an attorney representing several Connecticut towns, characterized Eversource’s failures before and after the storm as “egregious.” 

“There were serious risks to public health and safety,” Ball said. “Hopefully that will never happen again. And we firmly believe that the only way to hold Eversource accountable for these failures is to levy the maximum penalties allowed by law.”

PURA will issue its final decision on Eversource’s storm response on April 28. Any monetary fines would then follow.

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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