HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — A lot of attention has been on holding utilities accountable after tropical storms knocked out power to hundreds of thousands in the state over the summer.
Wednesday night, lawmakers debated bills targeting Eversource and United Illuminating that have bipartisan support.
Just after 10:30 p.m., the news came down that the CT House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Energy Bill: 136 to 4, with 11 not voting.
During the special session — which began Tuesday — lawmakers took special aim at the utilities, in particular the electric companies. That’s because after major storms hit the state over the summer, hundreds of thousands of CT residents were left without electricity for days during Tropical Storm Isaias. For some, they were out of power for over a week and lost a lot of food and medicine due to spoilage.
Now, lawmakers are standing up for the customers.
“Eversource sent out a rate increase to its customers in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic,” State Rep. Charles Ferrero (R-Orange) told News 8 on Wednesday.
Eversource customers are angry at the rate increases, angry at long-term power outages where they lost food and medicine, and angry there is no accountability for the utilities.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have been listening and are putting forth legislation that will reimburse customers $250 for groceries and medicines lost in a power outage lasting longer than 96 hours. They will also be getting a break on their bill.
“If the power is out for more than 96 hours, there will be a $25 per diem (per day) credit,” explained Rep. Ferraro.
As lawmakers go back-and-forth debating the bill, they are talking not only about reimbursing customers for outages and food, but they’re also talking about holding the power companies accountable, making sure they do a good job.
State Rep. David Arconi (D-Danbury) explained, “We are shifting to performance space framework to better hold our utilities accountable. we are paying higher rates here in the state and it’s time we start getting value back.
Lawmakers say this is a long time coming, and in the past when there have been power outages there’s been way too much talk and not enough action.
“We have had panels we have had this, but we have never been able to get something like this across the finish line,” Rep. Arconti added. “And I don’t think this is the end but the beginning, the way I look at it, to hold them accountable. “
This is not just for the electric companies, but for the gas companies and water companies: all the utilities. The idea is to look out for the customer, the little guy, because there’s not much they can do when the power goes out and they approach the utility company about the loss of food.