CONNECTICUT, USA — State regulators proposed hefty fines Thursday against Eversource and United Illuminating for the utility companies’ failure to “meet obligations to ratepayers” during and following Tropical Storm Isaias.
The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) is proposing a $30 million fine against Eversource and a $2.1 million fine to United Illuminating.
The proposal comes a week after PURA released its final reports on an investigation into the companies’ response during last year’s storm.
Tropical Storm Isaias left over 1 million residents and businesses without power for an extended period at the same time as a global pandemic and a summer heatwave.
PURA 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.
On Thursday, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong praised PURA’s decision, calling the penalty against Eversource “appropriate.”
“Eversource must pay for their failures,” Tong said. “This penalty is a strong first step to hold Eversource accountable for their disastrous performance, but this matter is far from over. We will continue to fight before PURA to ensure that Eversource cannot put the full cost of their failures back on ratepayers.”
The state regulators also found that residents were unable to contact Eversource, and to a lesser extent, UI, to report outages, downed wires, and other safety issues in the wake of the storm.
The attorney general said if the penalty stands following Eversource's right to a hearing, the company would return $28.4 million to its ratepayers and pay a penalty of $1.6 to Connecticut due to its failure to appropriately report accidents.
UI would return $1.8 million to its ratepayers and $360,00 to Connecticut if the penalties stand after the company's right to a trial.
According to the AG's office, the final civil penalties determined by PURA after both energy companies' have hearings will not be collected from ratepayers.
Eversource released a statement regarding Attorney General Tong's response saying:
We are reviewing the notice and look forward to getting through the final stages of the process. While our employees worked tirelessly to restore power as quickly as possible, we recognize the hardships our customers and communities experienced, and we acknowledge there are areas for improvement. We are working – and will continue to work – in good faith with our communities, customers and regulators to improve our performance.
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