Bob Duff

Senate Majority Leader

Bob Duff

Standing Up For You!

April 15, 2021

Duff Asks New Eversource CEO “Who Is Top Priority?”

Customers, Shareholders, or Wall Street Analysts?

Today, Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) sent a letter to the new President and CEO of Eversource, Joe Nolan, asking him for his top priority as he begins to lead the company.

The letter states:

Dear Mr. Nolan,

Congratulations on your appointment as the new President and CEO of Eversource Energy.

As you begin your tenure, I would like to ask one question: out of the three groups you serve, who is your top priority?

1. Customers
2. Shareholders
3. Wall Street Analysts

I am not asking you to weave all three into a response, but to inform the residents of the state where they stand in the hierarchy of a publicly traded monopoly that has to answer to multiple constituencies.

I look forward to your response.

Bob Duff
Senate Majority Leader

In 2020 following Tropical Storm Isaias, Senator Duff joined his colleagues in leading passage of the “Take Back Our Grid Act” in order to change how Connecticut’s utilities are run including Eversource. The legislation aimed to hold utility companies accountable for their actions and practices, additionally adding further oversight and restitution for customers who suffer extended power outages. The new law included:

By June 2022, the Public Utilities Regulation Authority, or PURA, would be required to create performance-based regulation of electric, gas and water distribution companies, establishing standards and metrics to measure performance in objectives including safety, reliability, equity, customer satisfaction, mutual engagement, resilience against rapid changes in conditions and environmental goals. Those metrics would then be applied to existing regulation guidelines, aligning utility performance to match them.
  • PURA is given more time and authority, allowed to evaluate a company’s performance during rate amendment proposals and able to determine whether a company’s rate of return is reasonable compared to the new rate proposed; its deadlines are extended in rate cases by 200 days for electric distribution companies and 50 days in other cases; and it will have to consider performance-based incentives and penalties when reviewing and investigating EDCs and rate hearings for PURA-regulated utility companies.
  • PURA can require that rate recovery for executive or officer compensation, as well as incentive compensation for employees, be dependent on performance.
  • PURA would be allowed to implement interim rate decreases if a company sees excessive return, as well as low-income rates and economic development rates.
  • Starting in 2021, entities could not become holding companies of PURA-regulated utilities unless the holding company’s board of directors has the same population percentage as the holding company’s total service area in Connecticut. PURA also gains an additional 30 days to hold a hearing on mergers or other changes, while the deadline for approving or disapproving a merger/change of control is extended by 80 days.
  • The cap on civil penalties levied by PURA for failing to comply with performance standards in emergency preparation rises from 2.5 percent to 4 percent of annual distribution revenue, and penalties will continue to be assessed as ratepayer credits set at $10,000 per violation.
  • Starting July 2021, if PURA determines an EDC failed to perform according to the PURA standards:
    • EDCs will be required to give customers $25 account credits each day they experience a power outage of more than 96 hours after an emergency, with EDCs not allowed to recover costs for those credits outside of petitioning for a waiver.
    • EDCs would be required to compensate residential customers $250 for any medication and food expiring or spoiling due to a power outage lasting more than 96 hours after an emergency.
  • After EDCs submit information about their last five major storm responses, including data about their crew workers and damage and outage estimates compared to storm response, PURA would issue minimum staffing level standards for outage planning and restoration personnel directly responsible for post-storm recovery. EDCs would face civil fines if found to break these rules.
  • PURA would be authorized to assess fines for noncompliance with laws, regulations and orders, with a portion of those fines going to energy assistance program nonprofits
  • DEEP would be required to evaluate current regional energy market (ISO New England) use and recommend alternatives achieving public policy goals by adopting clean and renewable energy
  • DEEP would also have to expand its microgrid grant and loan pilot program for resilience projects, prioritizing projects benefiting vulnerable communities.