Isn’t it time to penalize utility companies, like CL&P, for failing to restore power more quickly after storm outages?

Jeffrey Butler, CEO CL&P

Jeffrey Butler, CEO CL&P

With the slow response from Connecticut Light and Power (also known as Northeast Utilities) on restoring power after Hurricaine Irene and now after the Alfred snow storm, it is time to consider imposing big penalties on utility companies for failing to restore power and maintain power lines in accordance with prescribed standards. Massachusetts passed such legislation in 2009, allowing utility companies to be fined up to 2.5 percent of their transmission and distribution revenues, which could result in $20 million in penalties to CLP if it continues to pursue power restoration at a snail’s pace.

Although Massachusetts had total outages far less than Connecticut from Alfred, it now appears that this state received a favorably disproportionate share of restoration resources from CL&P in comparison to those directed to Connecticut. The question is, was this mere coincidence or deliberate action on the part of CL&P to avoid fines under Massachusetts law.

Connecticut residents may be suffering more and more outages over the winter, when temperatures do not merely dip below forty (40) degrees but below freezing. Decentralization of CL&P’s operations, with the closing of a number of substations in New Britain, Bristol, and other areas in Connecticut, plus the apparent unresolved issue of who should be bearing the maintenance costs of trimming trees from wires, will in all likelihood inhibit any improvement in response time on the part of CL&P to restore power more quickly to Connecticut residents following a storm outage than it has after Irene and Alfred.

As we all know, the compensation and bonuses of CEOs are contingent upon the bottom line of utility companies, where dividends reign supreme with shareholders.  Obviously chief executive officers like Jeffrey Butler are not rewarded for incurring extra costs to speed up restoration of power lost from severe storms.  Given this structure of rewards, isn’t it time we give CL&P an economic incentive to speed up its restoration efforts in the future? Better yet, isn’t it time we demand CL&P to step up and reduce the likelihood of outages by implementing a better maintenance program in order to minimize the occurrence of these outages?

Levying $20 million fines for lackadaisical responsiveness on the part of CL&P to power outages might just be that necessary first step to motivate Jeffrey Butler and the management of CL&P to devote more efforts to improving its response time to outages.

By the way, I never saw a helicopter on Sunday, when CL&P said that it would devote that day solely to assessing damage by helicopter flights over all of Connecticut, before sending crews out to attempt any restoration efforts.  Did you?

If you were as disappointed as I was in the response and power restoration efforts of CL&P to the outages suffered by Connecticut residents from storms Irene and Alfred, then please sign the petition urging Governor Dannel Malloy to impose steep penalties on Connecticut utility companies for failing to meet ongoing power restoration standards:  please click Petition Governor Dannel Malloy to Impose Penalties on Utility Companies and sign!

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About Connecticut Politics

William Brighenti is a Certified Public Accountant and Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, who operates a public accounting firm, Accountants CPA Hartford, Connecticut, LLC. Bill began his career in public accounting over thirty years ago. He provides a variety of accounting, tax, and QuickBooks consulting services to individuals and business across a wide spectrum of industries. Bill writes an accounting, tax, and QuickBooks blog under the penname, "The Barefoot Accountant". William Brighenti created the blog, Connecticut Politics, because of the need for a voice to cry out loud--Vox Clamantis--explaining the reasons for the terrible state of the economy in the United States as well as urging change and reform before the United States becomes a third world country.
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7 Responses to Isn’t it time to penalize utility companies, like CL&P, for failing to restore power more quickly after storm outages?

  1. roxanne mulvey says:

    i agree and no i did not see any helicopters anywhere. and we were driving around to stay warm

  2. It’s time for Governor Malloy to step up and demand immediate action from Jeffrey Butler of Connecticut Light and Power. Being “underwhelmed” is not strong enough. Nor allowing Jeffrey Butler nine days to restore power is too lenient.

    Also with Governor Dan Malloy and the federal government declaring a state of emergency, where is the firewood for the nearly 1 million residents without heat? We are unable to buy firewood anywhere.

    Governor Dan Malloy gets an “F” for handling this crisis. He flunks leadership in my class.

    The Barefoot Accountant

  3. Chris Tangorra says:

    I have my power back finally, but I am going to continue to voice my concern about CL&P’s gross negligence to our elected officials. If we stop pursuing this issue, we will be in the same horrible position the next time we have a storm. More people will lose thier lives while CL&P’s profits continue to rise. Also, Governor Malloy needs to stop talking tough and actually do something. You can see that he is now distancing himself from CL&P, but he needs to exert more pressure on them.

  4. I agree. Please sign the petition referenced above in the post.

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