The Ridgefield Community Gazette
The Ridgefield Community Gazette
Wednesday, September 30, 2020 • HomeArts DiningNews AdvertiseSubscribe

Election 2020
Candidates Discuss TS Isaias Response, Outage Prevention and Utility Rates

We asked candidates for state office to provide their thoughts on the issues of storm preparation, response and utility rate increases.

26th Connecticut Senate District Candidates Bethel, New Caanan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport & Wilton

Will Haskell - D

Recently, my office was flooded with complaints from constituents who all said the same thing: their electricity bills had jumped by significant amounts without any noticable increase in usage. I noticed a dramatic increase in my own electricity bill, and I'm grateful that this regulatory body has interceded to halt rate hikes. I'm testifying today in favor of a more permenant solution: performance-based regulation.

In the wake of Tropical Storm Isaias, it could not be more clear that Eversource has prioritized corporate salaries over investments in grid hardening and storm preparedness. Going forward, this regulatory authority ought to financially incentivize our public utilities to be accountable to the public. Without meeting certain thresholds of power restoration and customer service, rate hike requests should be summarily denied.

Although this may sound harsh, I had the unique perspective of representing a district in Southwestern Connecticut that was among the hardest hit by last month's storm. Many of my constituents were without power for up to 10 days. I've encouraged them to submit testimony so that you can hear directly about their experiences. Among the calls that my staff and I received, I won't easily forget the seniors who were at risk of overheating, the asthma patients who were having difficulty breathing, and the constituents who saw their sewage pipes back up. When I checked in on neighbors, I met constituents who needed to charge their wheelchair or oxygen machine. Many families I met couldn't afford to throw out the hundreds of dollars of spoiled food or medication in their refrigerator. Time and time again, my constituents told me that they could justify paying more for electricity if they saw some return on that investment. Yet in the days after the storm, it became clear that the energy monopoly had produced a grid that is neither affordable nor reliable.

I don't blame Eversource for the weather. We live in New England and storms happen. But a company that makes billions in profits off of serving our community should be prepared for a problem that announced itself 5 days in advance in the southern Carribean. Alarmingly, the First Selectmen and Selectwomen in my district tell me that communication with Eversource has only gotten worse since Hurricane Sandy. I would encourage PURA to consult with municipal leaders when considering rate hikes, as perhaps this would make public utilities feel a bit more accountable to the Emergency Operations team within every Town Hall.

My constituents have exactly one choice when it comes to whom to pay for their electricity. That's why we rely on PURA to impose strict regulations and demand that the public interest come before corporate bonuses. I look forward to working with you on hardening our grid, decentralizing energy distribution and reducing the costs that families and businesses in Connecticut face.

Kim Healy -R

Eversource has failed Connecticut residents too many times, from Irene to Isaias, and our regulatory bodies permitted unwarranted rate increases. On top of spending among the highest rates for electricity in Connecticut, we receive service we can’t depend on when we need it most. Nutmeggers deserve better, and we can do better, but it starts with a change of leadership in Hartford. Without better leaders, we will not be able to appropriately leverage the regulatory authorities in the state to hold Eversource accountable. Worse, we will leave those who have gotten us into this mess in positions of power. It’s time Connecticut votes for and receives real change.


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