On a blustery day when electricity flickered in a few Connecticut homes, state officials lauded regulators’ approval of an accountability plan requiring Eversource to refund millions to ratepayers for its lacking response to Tropical Storm Isaias.
During a Wednesday meeting, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority approved the plan, which was an agreement between the state and Eversource and first announced earlier this month. The deal stipulates the utility will not seek a rate increase until at least 2023.
It also calls for the utility provider to return $65 million to customers in the form of credits — on average about $35 — on their December and January electricity bills. The company will pay another $28.4 million in the form of a penalty by regulators which it has agreed not to appeal. Another $10 million will help fund a program to assist customers who are behind on their utilities.
The agreement was negotiated in response to deficiencies in Eversource’s response to Isaias, which hit the state last August and left more than 750,000 customers in the dark. Some stayed without power for more than a week.
In a press release Wednesday, Gov. Ned Lamont applauded the regulators’ decision.
“This progress happened as a result of a significant storm that impacted hundreds of thousands of residents, and then this settlement was reached after more than a year of a thorough process that involved hearing from ratepayers, elected officials, and the publicly regulated utility,” Lamont said. “The end result is immediate savings for consumers on their upcoming energy bills, and a level of accountability which shows our residents that a company providing power in our state must answer to those within our borders.”
Eversource, a regional utility company, has also agreed to create a new Connecticut-based president position and add seats to its governing board for stronger Connecticut representation.
Attorney General William Tong said his office would continue to monitor Eversource’s performance.
“I will work closely with PURA as this agreement is implemented to ensure every term is honored and that Connecticut families see the safe and reliable service they are owed. Although this settlement is concluded, my work is not done,” Tong said.
In an email, Eversource spokesperson Tricia Taskey Modifica said the utility was pleased regulators approved the settlement, which would assist customers as the state continues to battle the COVID pandemic and prepare for the winter months.
“We learned valuable lessons as a result of Tropical Storm Isaias and have made numerous improvements that have changed how we respond to communities and communicate during storms,” Modifica said. “We look forward to moving on and winning over ‘hearts and minds’ in Connecticut by demonstrating our commitment to both customers and Connecticut leadership, at a time when we must work together to deliver a new clean energy future.”