PURA: PURA Issues Draft Decision on Performance of CL&P in Two Fall Storms

July 17, 2012
 
PURA Issues Draft Decision on Performance of CL&P in Two Fall Storms
Final decision scheduled for Aug. 1 after review of comments and oral arguments from parties
 
The Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) today issued its draft decision regarding the performance of the state’s electric distribution companies and other public service companies in preparing for and responding to last fall’s two storms – Tropical Storm Irene and the October snow storm.
 
Parties to this matter – Docket Number 11-09-09  – will now have the opportunity to file written comments on the draft and make oral arguments in front of PURA before a final decision is issued August 1.
 
In the draft decision, PURA concluded that the state’s largest electric distribution company, Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P), was “deficient and inadequate” in several areas of its preparations and response to the two storms and the power outages they caused.
 
PURA also said that these findings will be taken into consideration when it rules on the next rate request from CL&P and on any request from that distribution company for recovery of costs it incurred as a result of the storms.   At the current time CL&P has no rate requests pending before PURA, nor has it submitted any request for recovery of storm-related costs.
 
The draft decision also provided an incentive for CL&P to strengthen its preparation for future storms, with PURA noting that it will “consider and weigh the extent to which CL&P has recognized its shortcomings and taken concrete, measurable steps to embrace the need for aggressive, extensive restructuring of both its attitude toward storm management and establishment of new practices for execution of future storm response.”
 
The draft decision also ordered CL&P to develop a plan to establish a “heightened state of readiness” in preparation for future storms and to take steps to address issues such as tree trimming, communications and securing mutual assistance.
 
PURA’s draft decision recognized the efforts of line crews and all others who worked to restore power in the two storms, concluding that “through more disciplined and thorough leadership and communication, their collective work could have been more effective and efficient.”
 
The PURA draft decision did not specify potential sanctions for other public service companies, including United illuminating (UI), the state’s second largest electric distribution company.  PURA did, however, reserve the right to take UI’s storm performance into consideration when reviewing any future request by that company for recovery of 2011 storm-related costs.
 
Background on PURA’s Storm Review
 
In keeping with its regulatory responsibilities, PURA launched an initial investigation of the performance of Connecticut’s electric distribution companies and other public service companies – regulated gas, water and telecommunications companies – following Tropical Storm Irene and late expanded this review to include the October snow storm.
 
PURA has conducted detailed reviews of the performance of public service companies following major storms since Hurricane Gloria caused major power outages in 1985.  These reviews include a review of:
  • Emergency Planning
  • Preparation for the specific storm
  • Restoration Performance
  • Plans for mutual assistance and supplemental staff
  • Communications with customers and public officials
  • Adoption of best practices and recommendations following previous storm events.
The PURA reviews are conducted under authority granted in Connecticut General Statutes § 16-11, which charges PURA with oversight of company equipment and operations in order to ensure safe, adequate and reliable service. 
 
As part of its review of the performance of public service companies in last fall’s two storms, PURA requested documents from these companies, held public hearings where witnesses were cross examined, and analyzed consultants’ findings and legal briefs from respective parties.