In August and October of last year, Greenwich, Stamford and many Connecticut communities received the brunt of two remarkable storms that created major damage and left many residents without power for up to two weeks. In response to this prolonged lack of service, the General Assembly convened a panel with the charge of assessing responsibility for the lengthy power outages, requiring the utilities to better communicate throughout crises, and establishing measures to prevent such widespread power failures going forward.
After many public hearings, testimony from all stakeholders, and extensive research, a storm response bill was crafted. The bill requires state regulators with the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) to establish new performance standards for telecommunications, electric and gas utilities for emergency preparations, and a means for the restoration of service over prolonged and widespread outages.In addition the bill requires a report on utility call center operations, and notification from the utilities on coordinated responses. PURA must submit its report identifying these new standards by November 1st of this year. Should PURA reach the conclusion that proper standards are not being met in any of these areas, civil penalties can be levied against distribution companies in an amount up to 2.5% of that company’s distribution revenue.
Both chambers of the legislature have approved this measure and it now awaits Governor Malloy’s signature.