Osten, Duff call for forum on Eversource response to Oct. 29 storm

State Sen. Cathy Osten of Sprague joined Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff of Norwalk in calling for a review of Eversource Energy’s handling of the Oct. 29 storm that knocked out power throughout the state.

In a letter sent Thursday to the co-chairmen of the legislature’s Energy and Technology Committee, the senators, both Democrats, ask that “an informational public forum” be convened to examine Eversource’s “seeming lack of proper storm preparedness” and “lack of a quick, effective storm response” before and after the storm.

The storm left more than 100,000 Connecticut residents — “particularly residents of eastern Connecticut” — without power for multiple days, the senators say in their letter to Sens. Gary Winfield, D-New Haven, and Paul Formica, R-East Lyme, and Rep. Lonnie Reed, D-Branford.

Duff and Osten say in the letter that as late as the afternoon of Nov. 2, more than 1,600 Eversource customers still were without power — “96 hours after a relatively moderate wind and rain event.”

Locally, the towns of Ledyard, North Stonington and Stonington were among those especially hard hit.

“Once again, too many customers were left in the dark without adequate communication from Eversource,” Duff said in a statement Thursday. “To make matters worse, residents of New Hampshire received automated telephone updates regarding power restoration efforts in Connecticut and vice versa. I believe that a review of Eversource’s storm response is particularly warranted in light of Eversource’s new request of state regulators to approve a three-year, $336.8 million rate increase for the company, which would raise the average Connecticut consumer’s electricity bill by 6.8 percent.”

An Eversource spokesman issued a response.

“We understand the senators’ concerns regarding the October 29th storm and we realize how difficult it is for our customers to be without power,” Mitch Gross wrote in an email. “It’s important to note this storm caused significant damage to the electric system, affecting most of the 149 communities we serve. Our lineworkers, contractors, out-of-state mutual aid crews and support staff worked around-the-clock restoring power. In many cases, the damage was extensive and crews had to rebuild parts of the system, which is a time consuming process. We’re proud of their commitment to this restoration for our customers.”

“We did experience some technical issues early in the restoration effort but those were addressed and resolved as quickly as possible,” Gross wrote.

He called Eversource’s recent filing with the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority “a request to further strengthen the electric system and continue making improvements to the grid so it’s more resilient against future storms.”

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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