A decision released Monday by Attorney General George Jepsen found Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Daniel C. Esty did nothing wrong when he intervened in a regulatory review of an application by Connecticut Light & Power to install “smart meters.”
The Public Utility Regulatory Authority had issued a draft decision recommending the denial of CL&P’s application to install a million “smart meters” because the expense didn’t justify the savings to ratepayers.
Esty, who as commissioner of DEEP oversees PURA, and he intervened to ask for time to develop a policy on “smart meters,” which are used to measure peak and off-peak electrical usage.
Consumer Counsel Mary Healey questioned the relationship between DEEP and the regulatory authority and asked the attorney general for an opinion on Esty’s decision to intervene.
“We conclude that DEEP’s actions in this proceeding were entirely consistent with Public Act 11-80 and the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act,” Jepsen wrote in his decision.
He said the legislation also made it clear that “PURA is the sole and final decision-making authority in formal UAPA administrative proceedings,” Jepsen wrote. “For the purpose of resolving administrative proceedings, PURA is not a ‘subordinate entity’ to the DEEP.”
Last Monday Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he was aware Esty did consulting work for CL&P’s parent company Northeast Utilities, but didn’t believe Esty’s intervention in the matter was inappropriate.
Esty was paid $205,000 from 1997 to 2005 in consulting services. Malloy said that he disclosed the relationship prior to his appointment as commissioner of the agency.
“There’s a reason draft decisions are released. That’s to allow for comment,“ Malloy said.
“The comment was: We would like to act in concert on one of the most important energy issues present in the United States,” Malloy said in Esty’s defense. “I believe giving consumers more information about their usage is one of the top energy issues facing our country.”
Jepsen concluded that Esty’s actions “was entirely in keeping with the new legislative requirements.”
“Suspension would allow DEEP the opportunity to set smart meter policy on a state-wide basis and guide PURA decisions in the CL&P case and other subsequent proceedings,” Jepsen wrote.