The Brookfield Community Gazette
The Brookfield Community Gazette
Sunday, July 25, 2021 • Home AdvertiseSubscribe

Election 2020
Candidates Discuss TS Isaias Response, Outage Prevention and Utility Rates

We asked candidates for state office to provide their thoughts on the issues of storm preparation, response and utility rate increases.

107th Connecticut Assembly District Candidates, Bethel, Brookfield & Danbury

Kerri Colombo -D

Eversource’s exponential rate hikes were unjustified, untimely and demonstrated corporate greed over resident need. Their storm response was abysmal. They need to focus on hiring effective leaders, meeting staffing requirements, and greatly improving services and response time in our communities. They need to ensure that their response teams are in place and effectively directed in cases of emergency. Instead, we've seen a focus on increasing profits while decreasing services. We need to hold Eversource accountable to their customers.

We also need change in Hartford. It's clear that there are too many legislators employed by Eversource. They can't represent us if they are busy representing Eversource, and we're left wondering what influence they have behind closed doors. It's so disappointing that the legislature has failed to control costs, enact proper oversight, or fight for the people of Connecticut. If we want things to change, we need an advocate in Hartford who can get things done, and currently that isn't happening. We need Representatives who aren't employed by the utility companies and advocating for the utility companies. We need to elect Representatives who advocate for us. We need forward thinkers who advocate for power lines to be buried so we aren't left without power year after year. Our Representatives need to ensure upfront and proper oversight of our utilities to control costs before they attempt unwarranted rate hikes, not just provide lip service in hindsight afterward.

Stephen Harding -R

In regards to the storm response, I have met constituents in our district who were out of power for over a week; many others were out for nearly that period of time, as well. Now we are over 3 weeks removed from the Tropical Storm hitting our State, yet we are no closer to getting any real answers from Eversource. In fact, their chief official never even addressed the residents of our State at any point during the outages. We as legislators hold an important responsibility to assist in the regulation of our State’s utilities. As part of this role, we need to ensure that our utility companies and their officials are held accountable for lack of transparency and incompetence, both of which we saw from them in this latest storm. I, as a State Representative, am committed to taking significant action to hold these officials accountable for their unpreparedness and negligence. Also, I am committed to working with PURA to take the necessary steps to ensure that such negligence never happens again by any utility company in our State. Significant steps need to be taken by both PURA and our State Government in order to ensure the aforementioned for our residents. It is clear that the way in which our utility system operates in our State is ineffective and unacceptable. Thus, significant changes need to be explored and ultimately implemented.

In regards to the unacceptable rate increases levied by Eversource upon their customers, I thank PURA for suspending these rate increases and investigating these rate requests. First, PURA should also order the rebate to customers for the one month already paid with these unacceptable increases. As all of you know, we are in an unprecedented time in our State and Nation, a time in which many residents are unfortunately struggling financially. These individuals deserve to have this money back in their pockets, not in the hands of Eversource. In my opinion, a company paying their executive officials millions of dollars, making billions of dollars in profit, and being afforded a monopoly; in no way, shape or form deserves an increase in their rates. If anything, they should be discounting rates to our residents. As State Representatives we have the ability to craft legislation and regulation to assist in necessary efforts to address unacceptable utility rates in our State. We need to act now in this regard.

Significant action needs to be taken. Our State’s Government in conjunction with PURA need to ensure that utility prices are fair, their services are good, and they are transparent and approachable to the customers they serve.

30th Connecticut Assembly District Candidates: Brookfield, Canaan, Corwall, Goshen, Kent, Litchfield, Morris, New Milford, North Canaan, Salisbury, Sharon, Torrington, Warren and Winchester

David Gronbach - D

There is justifiable anger against Eversource and its response to the August 4th hurricane. Despite the forecast, Eversource failed to put resources in place to deal with the aftermath.

We’ve been here before with Hurricanes Irene, Sandy, and the 2012 Snowstorm. Unless something changes, we will be here again.

When people are without power for more than two days, hundreds of dollars of food and medication has to be thrown out. In 2012, our legislature introduced a bill that would have required Eversource to reimburse customers for spoiled food and medication. It also would have capped Eversource executive salary at $350,000 per year.

Once again, people have lost hundreds of dollars of food and medications. To add insult to injury, we learned that Eversource’s CEO earned almost $20 million dollars last year.

Our State Senator had a chance to support the 2012 Bill and enact basic consumer protections to protect Eversource customers. He voted against it.

He voted against reimbursing people for spoiled food and medicine. He voted against capping executive salary to ensure resources went to customers and not executives.

He also voted for the legislation Eversource claims resulted in the recent spikes in customer charges.

If elected, I will raise legislation to reimburse Eversource customers and limit multi-million dollar executive compensation for a monopoly that we, the taxpayers, granted. I will be an advocate for micro-grids, a transition to renewable energy sources, and modernizing our distribution grid with smart metering and requiring lines be put underground when road work/rehab is performed. It’s time for us to take back OUR power.

Craig Miner - R

Eversource failed ratepayers through an irresponsible storm recovery operation. This, coupled with a drastic rate increase, justifiably drew public outrage across the state.

This mismanagement by Eversource's upper management in no way diminishes the gratitude and respect my constituents and I have for the men and women working 16-hour days to restore emergency services, access as well as power across the region.

Lessons (hopefully) learned:

Eversource's communication breakdown created lost time and grossly underutilized out-of-state

resources. We need more familiar in-state personnel on the ground in each municipality during these events to help coordinate EMS, public works resources and restoration crews. This can be done with per-diem retired employees with local Eversource experience.

The result of this poor planning and mismanagement were tens of thousands of constituents that went a very long time without electricity"in some cases for no reason. Opening every town road in the district must be priority number one to ensure public safety. Restoration of power to key municipal and public buildings should take priority over Eversource chasing statewide restoration goals with any administration. Eversource's current system is patently unfair and unsafe. I also heard that deploying current technology similar to reverse 9-1-1 to manage restoration in real-time, along with reopening the Western District garage to store assets for more timely distribution are two suggestions and I agree with them.

Now, let's focus on our bill:

The state's Public Utilities Regulatory Agency (PURA), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) and the legislature all play a role in how much we pay. The balance between "recoverable"[ratepayer] and "non-recoverable" [shareholder] needs to be reconsidered by all parties previously mentioned.

As we reconsider penalties and reimbursements, executive compensation packages, power purchase agreements, consumer nonpayment protection and commitments to “green” energy, what is determined to be recoverable [ratepayer] by PURA will weigh heavily on the rate increases in our bill.

The legislature, myself included, will need to weigh all of these important public policy decisions as we craft legislation to be voted on in the next month or next year.


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