(The Center Square) – Connecticut has reached a deal to increase local accountability and control that will return money to families following Tropical Storm Isaias, Gov. Ned Lamont said.
In a news release, Lamont said he and Attorney General William Tong have brokered a deal with Eversource to return $103.4 million to Connecticut families after significant deficiencies were found in the company’s response to the tropical storm. In addition, the deal will stabilize electric rates through January 2024.
“Our focus in this process has been on accountability to the ratepayers of Connecticut,” Lamont said in the release. “With this settlement, ratepayers get some well-deserved relief in the short-term, and in the long-term they get more security that something like this won’t happen again. The reforms to CL&P required in this settlement will provide greater local control and oversight of the local utility, and an improved consumer experience for ratepayers.”
As part of the deal, $65 million in Eversource funds will be distributed to customers in the form of credits on their bills from December and January. According to the release, the average customer will see a $35 credit. Plus, the company will not appeal a $28.4 million penalty levied by the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority “due to inadequate response to Isaias.”
"This settlement provides tangible relief for our customers as we continue to deal with COVID-19 and prepare for the heating season," Eversource spokesman Mitch Gross said. "The settlement is a reflection of our deep commitment to Connecticut. We learned valuable lessons as a result of Tropical Storm Isaias and we've carried forward numerous improvements that have changed how we communicate during storms. We are intent on winning over 'hearts and minds' in Connecticut by demonstrating our commitment to both customers and Connecticut leadership, at a time when we must work together to delivery a new clean energy future."
Tong said the event "cannot happen again."
“Eversource failed its Connecticut customers and put families at risk after Tropical Storm Isaias,” Tong said in the release. “This agreement forces significant governance changes at Eversource to bring much needed local control and oversight. This is a powerful agreement, but Eversource still has a lot of work ahead to earn back Connecticut’s trust. I will be watching carefully to ensure every term of this agreement is honored, and that Connecticut families finally receive the safe and reliable service they deserve.”
According to the release, an additional $10 million of the pact requires the company to assist customers who are having trouble paying utility bills.
Terms of the deal, according to the release, include Eversource “create a new Connecticut-based president” of Connecticut Light & Power “to improve local accountability and control and to add new seats to its governance board for representatives” from the state.