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Eversource says it's reviewing PURA's $30M fine decision after including figure in earnings report

Regulators last week ordered the companies to increase the number of line workers who restore power after storms.

HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut regulators have proposed a $30 million fine for Eversource and a $2.1 million fine for United Illuminating for what officials call the utilities’ failures in their preparation and response to Tropical Storm Isaias in 2020.

The storm left hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in the state without power last August, some for more than a week. The state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority on Thursday issued violation notices to the companies.

The companies now have 20 days to request a hearing to contest the fines. The utilities say they are reviewing the proposed sanctions and will be deciding how to respond.

In its first-quarter earnings report, Eversource included the $30 million charge, or $.07 per share after-tax, saying it was “associated with customer credits and a related assessment that Connecticut utility regulators announced on May 6, 2021 for The Connecticut Light and Power Company (CL&P).”

“The charge relates to CL&P’s performance restoring power following the catastrophic impact of Tropical Storm Isaias in August 2020. Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority hearings on the announced credits and assessment are expected in June with a final decision scheduled for mid-July,” the report said.

A spokesperson for the company told FOX61 News that the figure appeared in the earnings report because of accounting rules state they must be reflected in the books as the company received Connecticut’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) notice before reporting results.

“We are currently reviewing PURA’s final decision on storm Isaias to assess next steps for appeal,” Mitch Gross of Eversource said in a statement. “Our internal emergency response teams are working hard to prepare for the next storm as the beginning of hurricane season is upon us, and we have a strong desire to focus on the future, particularly related to the implementation of improvements to our communications with customers and communities.”

He continued: “However, there are foundational legal issues that may benefit from court review to establish the going-forward framework applicable to storm performance. Any appeal must be filed within 45 days of the final decision. We also anticipate participating in the Notice of Violation proceeding, to address the violations alleged with complete and accurate factual information.”

Regulators last week ordered the companies to increase the number of line workers who restore power after storms.

PURA issued a ruling earlier this month critical of the response by Eversource Energy and The United Illuminating in preparing for and responding to Tropical Storm Isaias in 2020.

"With trees being the number one cause of power outages during storms, the energy company’s comprehensive year-round tree trimming program is another critical component of its constant preparedness efforts. Trimming and removing hazard trees that threaten overhead electric lines is crucial to providing customers with reliable power in all types of weather, and the energy company is investing more than $72 million for tree trimming this year," said officials in a statement.

The agency also said their failure to respond appropriately "created a significant risk to public safety."

PURA's ruling said each did not meet certain acceptable performance standards when it came to their actions before and after the storm.


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