Despite calls to reimburse customers for costs incurred due to power outages after Tropical Storm Isaias barreled through the region, Eversource and United Illuminating are showing resistance to complying.
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong and Gov. Ned Lamont both demanded the company reimburse customers, Eversource has thus far been reluctant to provide relief, despite utility companies in neighboring states reimbursing for prescription medication and food that spoiled during the storm cleanup.
"Eversource and UI need to do the right thing as ConEd has done in New York and reimburse consumers now for lost food and prescriptions," Tong said. "This needs to come out of shareholder—not ratepayer—funds. They have millions of dollars in profits they can use to cover this cost immediately without putting the burden back on ratepayers.”
Other elected officials in Connecticut, including Sen. Richard Blumenthal, have also been among the loudest voices calling for Eversource to reimburse customers, with the Senator even calling for CEO James Judge’s resignation.
“Some advice," Mayor Mark Boughton of hard-hit Danbury said this week. "Get the lights on, reimburse people for lost perishables, reimburse businesses for lost revenue, do not tack on the repair bill to future bills, speaking of bills, drop the new charges that have caused bills to skyrocket, cap CEO and executive compensation, then we can talk."
Boughton said that he plans to consult with surrounding mayors and first selectmen and their legal teams to look at legal action that we can bring against Eversource, its CEO, and its senior management team.
At least one lawsuit filed by a handful of Connecticut residents is already moving forward.
In a WCBS radio interview, Lamont said that “if Eversource is half-thinking or listening to this, do something proactive, don't make us make you do this. Get out there and tell the customers you understand their pain.”
Instead, Eversource has encouraged customers to contact insurance carriers to see if a homeowner or rental insurance will cover any losses that occurred as thousands in Connecticut waited a week to have power restored.
"We understand how difficult it is for our customers to be without power," Eversource spokesperson Mitch Gross said in a statement.
"As this was an act of nature we don't provide reimbursement, but we encourage our customers to reach out to their insurance carrier to see if it's in their homeowners or renters policy.”
A spokesperson for the United Illuminating Company said that they plan to update their emergency response plans in the wake of the wreckage caused by Isaias.
“We look forward to working with our regulators as they review our preparedness and response plans,” spokesman Edward Crowder stated.
“Given that this is just the start of storm season, we welcome the opportunity to work together with regulators and government to explore whether there are other things we should collectively be evaluating in the future to help address the impact on customers.”
Eversource President of Regional Electric Operations Craig Hallstrom touted the company’s work, noting that the tropical storm caused more damage than Superstorm Sandy eight years ago.
“We know how tough it is for customers to be without power and we greatly appreciate their patience,” he said. “Tropical Storm Isaias caused 25 percent more damage than Superstorm Sandy and Tropical Storm Irene, and the men and women working at Eversource restored power in 33 percent less time.
“Since the beginning of the Isaias, crews responded to more than 20,000 damage locations, worked with communities to clear more than 2,000 blocked roads, addressed more than 2,500 broken utility poles and repaired or replaced more than 575 miles of downed or damaged electric lines.”
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