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An Act to Enhancing Emergency Preparedness and Response

Remember the power outages last October? There is a path to fixing the utility company response in the future.

“The bill attempts to address many of the problems that occurred last year during the October Nor’easter. Many of our constituents suffered with no power, no phone, and no bathroom facilities and in many cases no running water for over a week,” said Sen. Boucher.

The bill not only deals with the October snow storm but also with the remnants of Hurricane Irene in August.

The legislation gives the state the ability to react more swiftly in the case of future outages. Under the bill, which passed 34-0 in the senate, state regulators will be required to:

  • establish new performance standards for electric, gas and telecommunications utilities regarding emergency preparation and service restoration
  • If there's an emergency with more than 10 percent of any utility's customers without service for more than 48 consecutive hours the utility can suffer penalties. (Those penalties cannot exceed a total of 2.5 percent of the company's annual distribution revenue.)
  • 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 standards.

"As long as those standards are real and fair and responsible, we should hold the utilities accountable if they don't meet them," said Sen. Toni Boucher.

The bill awaits the Governor’s signature.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Rozanne Gates May 17, 2012 at 12:27 PM
Toni - I will never forget how supportive you were from the very beginning. When Suzanne and I called for a Westport Town Meeting back in September to publicly discuss our outrage over the lack of response from CL&P after the hurricane, you were there lending your powerful support and asking all the right questions. You knew that we had the power to change things and at that meeting, I said to the CL&P representatives, "This will happen again and are you prepared to help us?" Little did we know that "again" would be only a few weeks away with the October snowstorm. But you were on the front lines then, too. Thank you, Toni, and as a lifelong Democrat, I am proud to vote for you.
Glen K Dunbar May 17, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Yes. Hi Toni. It is me Glen from the New Canaan trains. Remember me?? Thanks so much for this pal. The weather we suffered last Fall was terrible and we all are so appreciative that you are on top of this matter. Hope to see you at the train station soon. Thanks again GLEN

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