DEEP: Operation Fuel to Receive $2.5 Million in Agreement with NU

March 19, 2014
 
Operation Fuel to Receive $2.5 Million in Agreement with NU
 
AG withdraws petition for PURA investigation on alleged document withholding
 
Attorney General George Jepsen announced today that he is withdrawing his petition seeking penalties against Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P) for the company’s alleged impairing and impeding of the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) during the authority’s investigation of the utility’s power restoration after the October 2011 Nor’easter.
 
As a result of discussions with the Attorney General, Northeast Utilities (NU), CL&P’s parent company, has agreed to make a $2.5 million donation to Operation Fuel – a donation of historic significance to a crucial and financially strained assistance program.
 
“This is a true compromise,” said Attorney General Jepsen. “While I am agreeing to disagree with CL&P on whether its conduct in the PURA investigation was appropriate, we can agree that directing substantial funds to Operation Fuel is a vitally important and meaningful result.”
 
In April 2013, the Attorney General petitioned the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to impose additional penalties against CL&P in its request for storm recovery costs, alleging that the company impaired and impeded PURA’s investigation by failing to disclose all relevant information in the regulatory authority’s investigation of storm restoration efforts after the 2011 Nor’easter. CL&P maintains that it did not commit any wrongdoing in PURA’s investigation.
 
“This negotiated agreement is a satisfactory resolution to this matter and will provide welcome support for Operation Fuel,” the Attorney General said. “On balance, this agreement guarantees meaningful heating assistance to families that depend on Operation Fuel while avoiding a costly hearing that, in contrast, provides no guarantee of a satisfactory or clear resolution of this dispute. CL&P’s response to subsequent weather events has improved, and we have worked to improve communications with the company so that disputes of this nature are less likely to occur in the future.”
 
This agreement represents the largest single donation that NU has ever made to Operation Fuel.
 
“These funds will make a significant impact in helping to improve the lives of those in need in all areas of Connecticut,” said Pat Wrice, director of Operation Fuel, “those who cannot afford to heat their homes in winter or cool them in summer.”
 
“We are delighted to be part of a settlement that results in a donation of this magnitude to Operation Fuel, especially at a time when consumers are in desperate need to help with their winter bills,” said state Consumer Counsel Elin Swanson Katz.  “This is a constructive resolution to a difficult case, and I commend all involved for working diligently to achieve this outcome, particularly the Attorney General and his staff.”
 
Operation Fuel is Connecticut’s only statewide emergency energy assistance program and provides energy assistance to households in need. In the past year, Operation Fuel provided more than $3.5 million in energy assistance to more than 8,200 households. It also provided roughly $600,000 to local fuel banks, reaching 21,000 individuals including 8,000 children and more than 2,000 seniors.
 
A nonprofit, Operation Fuel is funded by donations from corporations, foundations and individuals as well as grants from the state of Connecticut. The vast majority of funds donated to Operation Fuel are distributed in the form of fuel assistance in that same year.
 
Assistant Attorneys General Michael Wertheimer, John Wright and Michael Cole and Paralegal Specialist Holly MacDonald, with Associate Attorney General Joseph Rubin, are assisting the Attorney General with this matter.