CT Attorney General Tong: Eversource Must Regain Our Trust

Attorney General William Tong issued a statement Wednesday in support of the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority decision finding Eversource failed to meet its obligations to ratepayers in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Isaias. The decision finds Eversource was imprudent in its response, opening the door to consumer credits, fines and penalties at a subsequent proceeding.

“Eversource failed and must regain our trust. Their failed response to Isaias put lives in danger, and left families in the dark and disconnected during a deadly pandemic. PURA’s strong decision correctly concludes that Eversource was ill-prepared and poorly managed throughout the storm crisis. PURA has rightly opened the door to strong penalties and corrective action, and we will continue to advocate for full accountability at every step of this process,” Attorney General Tong said in a release.

In his brief to PURA filed on February 5, 2021 addressing Eversource’s Tropical Storm Isaias failures, Attorney General Tong argued that Eversource: 

1) was imprudently unprepared to communicate with its customers during the Tropical Storm Isaias emergency;

2) imprudently administered the Make Safe phase of the storm response related to road clearing; and

3) ineffectively implemented its town liaison program during the critical early days of the public safety emergency.  PURA’s Final Decision correctly concludes that Eversource failed to comply with the applicable performance and prudence standards for each of these fundamental areas of storm preparedness and response.   

Attorney General Tong intervened last August on behalf of Connecticut ratepayers in PURA’s investigation into the response by both Eversource and United Illuminating to Tropical Storm Isaias.

At the urging of Attorney General Tong, PURA agreed to open a contested case and prudence review—legal proceedings that enable the Attorney General to make the strongest possible claims on behalf of ratepayers and the state, to seek fines, penalties and injunctive relief, and to oppose the utilities’ requests for profits and reimbursement of storm-related costs. PURA has robust authority as the state’s principal regulator and the legal forum to investigate and pursue such claims against state utilities.

Also, on Wednesday Governor Lamont issued a statement in response to the decision released by PURA regarding the response to Tropical Storm Isaias by Eversource and United Illuminating:

“PURA announced today what we have known since Tropical Storm Isaias hit our state last summer – Eversource and UI were not adequately prepared to serve their ratepayers to keep the lights and air conditioning on during a significant storm. Accountability is critical for all ratepayers across our state and that is what is happening now. Additionally, I am proud of the bipartisan bill that I signed into law following the storm to provide additional support to ratepayers and advance our commitment to a more resilient, reliable, and performance-based electricity system.”

In response to AG Tong’s statement, Mitch Gross from Eversource CT media relations said in an email Wednesday, “We stand by our response in Storm Isaias as we know our thousands of employees showed skill and dedication in restoring power to customers as quickly as possible.  There are many areas for improvement that we are already addressing and we continue to work in good faith with our communities, customers and regulators to improve our performance.  Today’s decision deserves careful consideration and review and we are committed to moving forward in the best interest of our customers.”