Hugh McQuaid / ctnewsjunkie photo
Sen. Norm Needleman (Hugh McQuaid / ctnewsjunkie photo)

The Senate gave final passage to a bill Thursday that would change how utilities are regulated to make them more accountable to ratepayers during power outages.

The Senate passed the “Take Back Our Grid” bill 35-0. Sen. Dennis Bradley did not vote on the measure.

Passage in the Senate follows passage in the House where it passed late Wednesday, 136-4.

Eversource Energy is not named in the bill, but the utility’s slow response to Tropical Storm Isaias largely prompted the legislation. The company was already under scrutiny following a steep rate increase that went into effect in July, a month before the storm that knocked out power to more than 800,000 customers.

The legislation will require customers to be credited $25 a day and reimbursed $250 for spoiled food and medicine if they are without power for four days. That would have amounted to $19 million for 255,000 customers for Tropical Storm Isaias, but the legislation doesn’t make it retroactive.

Sen. Norm Needleman, D-Essex, said the bill will allow Connecticut to have more reliability and a better price structure.

The bill will now go to the governor’s desk where he’s expected to sign it.

The Senate also gave final passage to bills that would allow election officials to open the outer envelope of an absentee ballot early to assist with organization before Election Day, $500 million in school construction funding, and a bill that would make it easier for old industrial properties with some level of pollution to be sold.

“When a property was sold if there had been certain activities involving hazardous waste materials and so forth, then it would be triggered just by virtue of the sale,” Sen. Joan Hartley, D-Waterbury, said, explaining the 1985 Connecticut Property Transfer Act. “Whether or not there was a significant environmental hazard that existed or not.”

The legislation the Senate passed Thursday would eventually sunset the Transfer Act in favor of a release-based system where an owner would be responsible for the contamination they knew about.

Hartley said the process was so “expensive and time consuming” that properties couldn’t get developed which meant they sat vacant and municipalities were unable to collect property taxes. She said many developers would ask if a site fell under the Transfer Act and if the answer was in the affirmative “many times they would walk away.”

The measure passed 35-0. Needleman did not vote on the measure.