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Courtney to PURA Chairman: Use Local Public Utilities as ‘Measuring Stick’ Against Eversource, UI

August 7, 2020
Press Release

NORWICH, CT – Today, Rep. Joe Courtney (CT-02) released a letter he wrote to Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority’s (PURA) Chairman Marissa Gillett. Courtney’s letter comes on the heels of PURA’s announcement that they would open an investigation into the response to Tropical Storm Isaias by Eversource and United Illuminating (UI), and encourages Chairman Gillett to include in PURA’s investigation a thorough review of the “superb response to Isaias by Connecticut’s Municipal Public Utilities, many of which are in Connecticut’s Second District,” including Norwich Public Utilities, which saw a far lower rate of electricity loss than larger companies such as Eversource.

Courtney’s latest letter to Chairman Gillett comes following correspondence sent by the entire Connecticut Congressional Delegation on August 6th encouraging PURA to conduct a timely and thorough investigation the lack of preparedness by Eversource and UI. In today’s letter, Courtney notes that customers in areas served by Public Utilities fared far better than those in areas served by Eversource and UI, and contended that Public Utilities have made greater commitments to customer service than their counterparts. Specifically, Courtney wrote:

“I am writing to follow up the August 6 letter to the Public Utility Regulatory Authority submitted by the entire federal delegation concerning PURA’s decision to conduct an investigation of the adequacy of storm preparation and response by Connecticut’s two largest power companies, Eversource and United Illuminating. […]

“The purpose of this letter, is to ask PURA to review not only the agenda my colleagues and I described in the August 6 letter, but also to ensure that the scope of its investigation include the superb response to Isaias by Connecticut’s Municipal Public Utilities, many of which are in Connecticut’s Second District. While I realize that municipal public utilities are not under PURA’s regulatory authority, given the nature of this investigation, comparing Eversource and UI’s performance against other local providers that experienced the same weather event would provide valuable information about what customers can and should expect from their electricity providers.

“In all the recent weather disasters of the past decade, municipal providers consistently outperform Eversource and UI in power restoration and service. Even a cursory examination of the power outage maps and chronologies shows a lopsided contrast where customers in the Public Utility territory are better served. In every storm there are fewer interruptions and faster restoration. I strongly believe that even discounting factors such as the size of geography and the number of customers, the Public Utilities make a much greater commitment to having the staff and equipment to be self-sufficient. Unlike the two companies under investigation, none of the Municipal Utilities have had to rely on the costly and excruciatingly slow process of recruiting crews from far flung states and Canada to serve their customers.

“I believe that an examination of the municipal public utilities in Connecticut will provide PURA with a valuable “measuring stick” to conduct its investigation and even more importantly, issue enforceable requirements for these regulated entities to provide Connecticut customers with the type of service they are paying top dollar for.”

To read Rep. Courtney’s full letter, click here.

Yesterday, Courtney and the entire Connecticut congressional delegation wrote a letter to Chairman Gillett urging PURA to examine whether additional rate hikes by Eversource and UI following the 2011 Nor’easter were invested properly, noting Connecticut’s already high electricity rates. Click here to read more.