Contact: Lawrence Cook
May 5, 2012
In response to two powerful storms that struck Connecticut last year and left hundreds of thousands of people without electricity and telecommunications service, state Senator Terry Gerratana (D-New Britain) and the state Senate passed sweeping reforms today to better prepare Connecticut for future severe weather events and minimize utility outages.
Senate Bill 23—which passed on a bipartisan and unanimous 33-0 vote—incorporates the lessons learned through the testimony submitted to Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s Two Storm Panel to invest in critical infrastructure and hold utility companies accountable for their performance during emergencies.
“Tens of thousands of my constituents in West Hartford, Farmington, Bloomfield and Burlington were some of the last people in the state to have their power restored following October’s snow storm, and I and they never want to see that happen again,” Sen. Bye said. “The performance standards for utility companies that we are putting in place today, along with the tree-trimming and training and other policies, are going to go a long way toward ensuring that Connecticut’s utility companies are better prepared and more responsive next Mother Nature takes a swing at us.”
The bill now heads to the floor of the House of Representatives.
Some of the major benefits of the bill include:
Performance Standards in Emergencies
The bill requires the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) to study and establish minimum performance standards for emergency preparation and response for each electric distribution company and gas company in Connecticut. These standards must address:
Backup Generators for Cell Phone Towers
In order to facilitate uninterrupted telecommunications services for private residents and government officials during emergencies, the bill will require all telecommunications companies to report to PURA and the Department of Emergency Services & Public Protection (DESPP) annually concerning their ability to provide backup power to any Connecticut based towers or antennas during an electric service outage.
Clearing Roads for Emergency Vehicles
In the aftermath of last year’s storms, fallen trees, limbs, and downed wire blocked passage on many roads across the state. This became life-threatening when police, fire, and ambulance vehicles could not reach people in need of assistance. Senate Bill 23 will require the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP), in conjunction with the utilities, DOT, DESPP, and an association of municipalities to develop procedures to expedite the process of road-clearing for public safety personnel.
Food Spoilage Program
PURA must also study and create a mechanism through which electric distribution companies would reimburse residential customers for spoilage of food or refrigerated medicine after long power outages. The General Assembly will receive recommendations on any legislation necessary to create the program.
Locally Generated Electricity
The bill establishes a $15 million micro-grid and loan pilot program to support local distributed electricity generation at hospitals, police and fire stations, prisons, water treatment plants and other critical locations. Funds will be allocated evenly among small, medium, and large towns.
Vice Chair: Education
Legislative Office Building
Hartford, CT 06106-1591
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