A bill to improve utility companies' response time to power outages and help improve coordination between the companies and state and local officials passed unanimously through the House of Reps in CT last week.Â It is now on its way to Gov. Malloy who states that he is looking forward to signing it into law.Â The measure will require new performance standards by utility companies regarding emergency preparedness and service restoration.
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The Connecticut House of Representatives has unanimously passed a bill
intended to improve utility companies' response to storms and prevent large
outages like those seen last year following Tropical Storm Irene and a freak
State representatives passed the measure 148-0 Wednesday, the final day of
the legislative session. It now goes to Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who
said he looks forward to signing the bill into law.
"We can't know exactly what emergency is coming next, but we can learn from
past experience and improve," Malloy said in a statement following passage.
Bill proponent Rep. Vickie Nardello, D-Prospect, said the bill will help
improve the resilience of the current storm response system by reducing the
number of outages and enhancing coordination between utilities and state and
local officials in responding to weather emergencies.
She said the measure will also improve accountability of utility
Under the bill, state regulators will be required to establish new
performance standards for electric, gas and telecommunications utilities
regarding emergency preparation and service restoration when there's an
emergency with more than 10 percent of any utility's customers without service
for more than 48 consecutive hours.
Regulators must consider standards for minimum staffing and equipment levels
for each utility based on the number of customers; targets for recovery and
restoration of service; a communication plan between each utility and its
customers; and assessments of each utility's ability to rely on mutual aid from
other utilities in the region to restore the services.
Other standards relate to utilities' plans for tree-trimming, cutting and
removal to reduce outages caused by falling trees and limbs; how a utility's
call center is operated; notifications by each utility to state and local
officials to coordinate response efforts; and safety standards for a utility's
employees, mutual aid crews and private contractors. The Public Utilities
Regulatory Authority has until Nov. 1 to submit a report identifying the new
If PURA determines those standards haven't been met, according to the bill,
the regulatory agency can level civil penalties against gas and electric
distribution companies. Those penalties cannot exceed a total of 2.5 percent of
the company's annual distribution revenue.
The bill comes in response to Tropical Storm Irene and the October snowstorm
that resulted in large power outages across Connecticut - more than 1 million
from the remnants of Irene and 1.4 million from the October snowstorm.
"We cannot let our state be crippled because of these future disasters," said
Rep. Steven Mikutel, D-Griswold. "We need a better response from the utilities
and I believe the bill before will better prepare us for these future
Source: The Commercial Record