Public Utilities Regulatory Authority Testimony (8/24/20)

The Coat of Arms of the State of Connecticut
The Coat of Arms of the State of Connecticut

Chairman Gillett and Members of PURA:

My name is John Board, I currently reside in New Britain, and my residence lost power for six days. This is unacceptable. The communications crisis response was severely lacking when it came to Hurricane Isaias from our utility companies.

Instead of spending my testimony criticizing Eversource and United Illuminating (UI) — which I am sure hundreds of my fellow residents are going to do — I want to spend my time proposing policy ideas which this Commission, in conjunction with the General Assembly can enact and improve peoples’ lives — there must be accountability and reform.

I think it goes without saying, PURA should impose fines and sanctions on our public utility companies. These fines and sanctions should include: (a) reimbursing people for lost food, (b) reimbursing businesses for lost revenue, (c) prohibiting these companies from tacking the repairs of this storm to future bills, and (d) not allowing the 2020 rate hikes to move forward.

There are additional action items which PURA should refer to the General Assembly, as I outlined in my Medium post, “Connecticut, We Need a Policy-Driven Response to Hurricane Isaias.”

  1. Explore the opportunity of capping CEO & executive compensation
  2. Place a 100 hour “limit” on utility companies to respond to mass power outages.
  3. Strictly enforce ETR timeframes, with the threat of fines
  4. Demand upgrade to communications systems
  5. Re-engage in the tree-trimming program and the discussion around transmission lines
  6. Strengthen consumers hands by enacting a credit/proration policy
  7. Review and strengthen preparation guidelines for companies in every potential situation

The last months have been increasingly difficult for residents, in response to both the rates hikes and outages, on top of living through a worldwide pandemic. I would hope that you would consider taking actions that will favor the residents of Connecticut, while also sending a strong message to Eversource and UI that their response was unacceptable and they have had multiple attempts to “clean up their actions.”

Thank you for your time.