BERLIN, CT (WFSB) -- After the governor requested an investigation into the state's utility companies, state regulators have agreed to do so.
Gov. Ned Lamont met with Eversource executives on Wednesday afternoon.
After the meeting, he announced he is requesting the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) to conduct an investigation of the state's utility companies, including Eversource and United Illuminating, amid the widespread outages.
“I want to them to feel the sense of urgency that we felt when there’s an outage. I want to make sure we put every person we can on the table to make sure we are taking care of them. I don’t want any excuses, we are going to do some assessment, have to figure things out over the next few days," Lamont said.
On Thursday afternoon, PURA said it will act on the governor's request.
PURA said it will examine the measures that Eversource and United Illuminating "took in preparation for this storm, which caused widespread power outages and lengthy service restoration timelines, as well as reasons behind the clear misstep in response."
PURA chairman Marissa P. Gillett said: “There has been a significant failure in communication here, leaving upward of 800,000 Eversource customers without even a clear way to report an outage from the outset of the storm event. There are disturbing reports emerging about the coordination, or lack thereof, between our electric utilities and the communities which they serve. This is simply unacceptable. There will be a full, transparent investigation to follow; however, I want to emphasize that the focus remains for the time being on addressing life safety issues, restoration of service to critical facilities, and restoration of service to all 1,000,000+ Connecticut residents and businesses who lost power before and after the storm.”
Lamont said he is asking PURA to:
- Consider whether the utilities were adequately prepared and have the resources they need to respond to significant weather events
- Evaluate their response and whether it met regulatory and statutory requirements
- Determine whether resources that were invested into their outage response system was prudent in light of the recent system failures
- Determine whether civil penalties should be applied.
“Several years ago, Connecticut experienced largescale outages that took days to recover from, and we were told that the utilities were improving their resources so that they can be prepared for the next time Mother Nature inevitably hits again,” Governor Lamont said. “And now here we are, with a wholly inadequate response to another storm. I’m asking PURA to begin this investigation so that we can determine whether the companies are meeting their legal obligations and whether any penalties need to be applied. The people of Connecticut deserve better than the service they are receiving.”
“This storm will be the second largest storm in the state. Bigger than Super Storm Sandy. Super Storm Sandy had 500,000 customers impacted, about 7,500 damage locations," said Craig Hallstrom, president of Regional Operations at Eversource.
Elected leaders in several towns are also blasting Eversource for not doing enough to prevent so many outages.
The last time the state saw outages like this was during the October storm of 2011.
Right after that, the head of the power company resigned.
After intense criticism over delays, another issue during Tuesday’s storm was getting through to the company. Many customers tried calling to report outages, but the automated system wasn’t working.