Two historic storms. Numerous inquiries/investigations.
With several state entities probing how Connecticut - and particularly its utilities – handled Tropical Storm Irene in late August and the October 29th snow storm, things can get pretty confusing.
And it seems like more inquiries are announced every day. On Friday our congressional delegation asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to get involved. And earlier today the legislature’s Insurance Committee announced a hearing on how that industry handled the damage claims on November 15 at 1 p.m. in Hartford.
I asked Governor Dannel Malloy’s office for help explaining to readers who’s responsible for what, and they provided the following, amazingly detailed, better-than-I-had-hoped for list. Print it out and stick it on your hopefully-now-running fridge.
Governor Malloy’s Two Storm Panel
An eight member body appointed by Governor Malloy – originally established after Tropical Storm Irene –and now charged with an expanded scope to include the October snowstorm. This panel is reviewing the preparedness, response and recovery efforts of the state and its partners – including the utilities and municipalities. The panel will present the Governor a set of recommendations on how to improve response to future storms and natural disasters.
Governor Malloy has arranged for Witt Associates, a consulting firm led by former FEMA Director under President Bill Clinton, James Lee Witt, to conduct a thorough and timely review of both CL&P and UI and their handling of the recent winter storm. Witt Associates will complete this review – which is being done pro bono – by December 1.
Witt Associates will focus on the performance of the power companies in the October snowstorm and will identify what went wrong and why. The review will also identify short-term steps that can be put in place to protect electrical power service before another major winter storm occurs.
Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP)
- Public Utilities Control Authority (PURA)
In keeping with its statutory obligation to ensure that the state’s public utilities meet their obligations to provide safe and adequate service for ratepayers, it is standard practice for PURA to undertake detailed reviews of the performance of utilities following major storm events.
PURA will conduct this type of review of the performance of Connecticut’s public utilities in preparing for and responding to the October snowstorm. PURA had previously initiated a similar review regarding Tropical Storm Irene.
The PURA review will be focused on technical operations and the potential impact of these storms on rate making. As the state’s utility regulatory body, PURA also has the authority to issue “orders” to require specific actions by the utility companies.
The PURA reviews will also allow the agency to provide assistance and support to Governor Malloy’s Two Storm assessment team.
- Bureau of Energy and Technology Policy
DEEP’s energy policy bureau will look at long-term policy considerations and issues raised by the two recent storms – with an eye toward recommendations that can help minimize major outages in the future.
The policy bureau will assess opportunities to enhance and strengthen the power grid. These issues include:
- Undergrounding power lines
- New standards for transmission lines, distribution lines and poles
- Distributed generation (decentralized power plants)
- Methods of ensuring continuity of power at key locations such as town centers with commercial areas