Wilton letter: Eversource doesn’t have the power — we do
To the Editors:
Our state is still reeling from the significant impacts of Tropical Storm Isaias. We have bills to pay for lost food and many required lodging. However, the problems from Isaias were made worse by Eversource’s slow response, lack of communication, and inability to properly prepare. We are all angry, but our anger will only take us so far. It’s time to do something.
This is not about Eversource’s CEO Jim Judge. The Board of Eversource will determine his continued ability to run a company that has lost the trust of its customers and the public. It’s about what we can do to change a system that has failed us in this crisis and will likely fail us again.
According to state Sen. Will Haskell and state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, the delivery and management of electricity in Connecticut is antiquated beyond measure and ripe for change. Connecticut pays some of the highest energy bills in the nation and our poor system adds insult to injury.
We should demand:
Increased competition — We need to seek effective solutions for Connecticut. That means not having a one-size-fits-all provider that controls the market. Imagine having only one option for mobile phone service — you would be at the mercy of their decisions and plans, having little voice or control regarding their services and cost. We need competition and partnerships that create solutions.
Innovation to build a better grid — Delivery and management of electricity, response to outages and maintenance of grids has evolved. Other regions have smart meters that allow solar to be uploaded to the grid, smart transformers that detect outages and reroute electricity, microgrids that are better planned to reduce storm impact, and distributed generation systems that enhance resiliency. Our old-fashioned regulatory environment simply does not promote innovation.
Carrot and stick regulation — Unlike other states, we don’t have rules in place to compensate ratepayers for loss of food and electric service. While Gov. Lamont is correct that we need to incentivize innovation that results in better service, we need to create ways to hit the leaders and shareholders of Eversource, not the ratepayers, for our out-of-pocket costs when they fail.
Better communication — Eversource failed to communicate effectively at every stage of this crisis. Our state leadership and our town governments were literally left in the dark. We should expect and demand communications that are timely, informative and precise so the public is informed, and repair crews don’t sit hours waiting for instructions.
There is a public hearing of the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority on Aug. 24, 2020. You can submit testimony by email at email@example.com, mentioning Docket Number 20-08-03 in the subject line.
Write to your legislators as well. We all had to sit idle for a week while our power was out. It may be back on, but it’s now time to take the power back to where it belongs. All of us.