Blumenthal: CL&P Response to Outages Inadequate, Says No to Rate Hike Proposal

(Hartford, CT) – Senator Richard Blumenthal today sent a letter to Jeffrey Butler, President and COO of Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P) urging the company to use whatever means necessary to restore power to the more than 149,000 homes and businesses that are still without power. CL&P is responsible for over 86 percent of power outages for residents in Connecticut.

“As I traveled the state this week meeting with state officials, first responders, mayors, residents and small business owners, I’ve heard loud and clear the concern that your company did not do enough to prepare or respond, and is not doing enough work now to restore power. I share these concerns. Among the most common complaints are your lack of communication and absence of timelines for restoring service, and disregard for priorities set by local officials’ health and safety,” Blumenthal wrote in the letter. 

In addition, Blumenthal voiced his reservation and concern about reports that CL&P could introduce rate hikes in order to recoup losses.

“This suggestion for raising rates is unacceptable. I urge CL&P to immediately and publicly disavow and abandon this idea and assure the people of Connecticut that they will not be forced to bear this additional burden,” Blumenthal continued.

Over the past few days, Blumenthal has visited multiple towns and regions including the Shoreline and the Housatonic River Valley to speak with residents, small businesses and elected officials about the recovery efforts following Hurricane Irene. On Thursday, Blumenthal hosted a meeting in Branford where nearly 20 towns were represented to discuss the continued power outages on the shoreline.

The full text of the letter is below.           

 September 2, 2011

Jeffrey D. Butler
President and Chief Operating Officer
Connecticut Light & Power
P.O. Box 270
Hartford, CT. 06141-0270

Dear Mr. Butler:

            As you know, Connecticut continues to suffer the devastating effects of Hurricane Irene.  As of this writing over 172,000 customers in Connecticut are still without power – now 5 days after the storm.  Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P) is responsible for over 149,000 of these homes and businesses, representing 86 percent of those without power in Connecticut. According to CL&P’s estimates, nearly 100,000 customers will still be without power by Saturday and full power won’t be restored until sometime next week.  

            Equally troubling is the suggestion in yesterday’s Hartford Courant that CL&P will be considering steps to recoup financial losses from this storm by raising utility rates on the very customers who have been left without power. This suggestion for raising rates is unacceptable. I urge CL&P to immediately and publicly disavow and abandon this idea and assure the people of Connecticut that they will not be forced to bear this additional burden.

             The idea of raising rates as a way to recover storm related costs is particularly objectionable in this difficult economic time when families are struggling to find work and stay in their homes.  Our state’s rates already are among the highest in the nation and Connecticut families and businesses are struggling to recover from one of the deepest economic downturns in our nation’s history.

            As I traveled the state this week meeting with state officials, first responders, mayors, residents and small business owners, I’ve heard loud and clear the concern that your company did not do enough to prepare or respond, and is not doing enough work now to restore power. I share these concerns. Among the most common complaints are your lack of communication and absence of timelines for restoring service, and disregard for priorities set by local officials’ health and safety. CL&P’s poor performance stands in stark contrast to Connecticut’s municipally owned utilities in the state which restored power to 98 percent of their customers by mid-day on Wednesday as well as to the experience of utilities in surrounding states.    

            I will work to ensure each and every CL&P customer has a voice in this fight.  I can appreciate the severity of this storm and the record number of crews working on this but Connecticut and its people deserve better. 

Sincerely,

                                                                                                ____________________

                                                                                                 Richard Blumenthal

                                                                                                 United States Senate

 

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