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Gov. Lamont helps with Isaias cleanup; calls on power companies to do better

Connecticut

SOUTH WINDSOR, Conn. (WTNH) — Governor Ned Lamont said he is still in awe over the damage of Tuesday’s tropical storm.

Forty-eight hours later, Lamont rolled up his sleeves and helped the Doyles of South Windsor.

“Yeah, Governor Lamont stopped by to give us a hand,” said Michael Doyle. “Definitely appreciate it…kinda cool.”

With more than 700,000 people out of power at the height of the storm, Lamont has been critical of the utility companies for not being prepared.

“You can’t have enough people on staff all the time to deal with every type of emergency, but you sure as hell better have enough people ready to go when you have a two or three-day warning with the weather report,” Lamont said.

Utilities are required to file an emergency plan with regulators. Both United Illuminating and Eversource Energy did, but the attorney general said Eversource’s plans were off the mark, categorizing the storm low level. Records indicate the company changed the category to more sever after the storm was over.

Melissa Gillett, Executive Director of the Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA), released the following statement on Thursday:

“Utilities are in the business of delivering reliable service, and the public should know that I’m not interested in their excuses. The utilities will be afforded their day in court before PURA, but the governor did not recruit me to Connecticut to serve as a passive observer.”

“Thirty percent of nursing homes are on stand by power right now,” Lamont added. “Back up batteries on generators only last a few days; one has already gone down.”

State Representative Tom Delnicki, who represents South Windsor, is adamant.

“We need to learn from this: We have to do better, and Eversource has to come up with some solid planning to ensure that we get fast response and fast recovery.”

The governor has deployed the Connecticut National Guard to help local public works crews with cleaning up downed trees.

He will not move the primary election scheduled for next Tuesday. He told News 8, “I think we’ll be in good shape by next Tuesday, otherwise, there will be hell to pay.”

On Thursday, U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), along with U.S. Representatives John Larson (CD-1), Rosa DeLauro (CD-3), Joe Courtney (CD-2), Jim Himes (CD-4) and Jahana Hayes (CD-5), wrote the following letter to PURA:

As residents across the state reel from the effects of Tropical Storm Isaias, we write in support of your timely decision to open a comprehensive investigation into the preparation and planning by Eversource and United Illuminating (UI). We are exasperated and frustrated with facing the same delayed response by Connecticut utilities this year as we have endured during the October 2011 snowstorm, Hurricane Irene, and Superstorm Sandy.

This hurricane season will undoubtedly bring more storms to our cities and towns, so now more than ever, Connecticut residents have a right to know whether these companies are meeting the standards set by PURA for thoroughly preparing, and quickly responding to, a significant weather event.

Additionally, we urge you to examine whether the additional rate increases for resilience and hardening the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority approved in the wake of the October 2011 Nor’easter were spent in the most effective manner. Connecticut already has some of the highest electricity rates in the country, and these rate increases constitute a substantial burden on many customers. Accordingly, Connecticut residents should know that these dollars are being well spent  to harden the grid and better prepare for the next storm.

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