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!