There are no fewer than five separate reviews currently under way of the utilities response and preparation for the October Nor’Easter.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s storm panel will look at the response of the utilities to both Tropical Storm Irene and the rare October snowstorm. Malloy has also solicited the help of Witt Associates to review the performance of the utilities in the recent storm, which caused more than 830,000 Connecticut Light & Power customers to lose power for several days.
Six members of Connecticut’s Congressional delegation called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to do a review to determine whether the utilities violated the Energy Policy Act of 2005 by restoring power to other northeast states more quickly than in Connecticut. U.S. Rep. John Larson did not sign onto the letter because he felt a fuller investigation of the response will be merited once power is restored.
The Public Utility Regulatory Authority, formerly the Department of Public Utility Control, will also evaluate storm response.
But the newest agency to announce a review of the state’s electric infrastructure is the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
DEEP Commissioner Daniel C. Esty said Sunday that his agency’s review of the storm will be more policy oriented and will look at the changing nature and development of a broad energy infrastructure.
Esty said he wants the review to be more robust and forward thinking about how the state can avoid these types of widespread outages in the future.
Some have suggested burying the overhead electrical lines would make the state’s electrical infrastructure more reliable, but he estimated that would cost upwards of $20 billion. However, he said burying some lines in urban areas may be a solution that makes sense and won’t cause a huge fiscal burden in these trying economic times.
Esty’s review will also look at equipping town centers with some sort of generation power so grocery stores, shelters, and gas stations can still operate in times of emergency. He said they will look at both natural gas generators and fuel cells for town centers.
He said his agency will also be exploring tree trimming policies. As part of that review the agency will examine who should pay for it. The Office of Legislative Research has already put out a primer on the issue.
Esty stressed that all of these policy questions will be examined after everyone’s power is restored. He said restoration remains a top priority.
As of 10 a.m. Tuesday morning 25,000 customers were still without power, almost 11 days after the storm which dumped more than a foot of snow in some parts of the state.