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Two-Storm Panel Approves 82 Recommendations

Extreme weather incidents called a "wake-up call" for Connecticut.

The state's Two Storm Panel approved no less than 82 recommendations Monday morning to address the state's response to two extreme weather events last summer and fall — Tropical Storm Irene and the October Nor'Easter.

The summary of the 39-page report issued by the panel called the storms a "wake-up call to Connecticut" and said "the state must do more to prevent, plan for, and respond to emergencies and natural disasters."

Joe McGee, vice president of the business council of Fairfield County and a co-chair of the Two Storm Panel, said after approval of the recommendations that the "great public debate" will now center around the issue of "hardening" — or strengthening — power lines as climate change creates a rising sea level and more powerful storms.

The tradeoff, McGee said, would be about a 10 percent increase in monthly utilities bills to gain a 30 to 40 percent increase in the durability of the system.

Among others, the panel's recommendations include:

  • The need to develop reasonable performance standards for utility recovery and restorations after storms and link recoverable costs to these standards.
  • Revisions to state engineering standards to accommodate predicted increases in storm surge along coastal areas.
  • The need for improved worst-case planning and staffing by the state's utilities.
  • Connecticut's infrastructure needs to be better hardened to withstand natural disasters, and such work should begin as quickly as possible.
  • The use of microgrids and other emerging technologies should be considered as potential methods for mitigation of impacts to infrastructure.
  • Increased collaboration between municipalities, state resources, electric utilities and telcommunications service providers with respect to tree trimming.
  • Increased communication and planning between municipalities and utilities before a storm or diaster is imminent.
  • A review of sheltering needs to ensure that at-risk populations can be served if sheltering is required for a significant length of time.

After the recommendations were approved, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said his administration would address them later this week with specific responses to how the state would improve its performance in such emergencies. Some of those responses will be introduced as legislation in the session that begins in February, he said.

Malloy thanked panel members and those who gave testimony, and commented on the mission of the panel.

"We did many things right in the wake of these two storms, but when the margin of error is zero — like it was for these two storms — we have to do better," he said.

Malloy created the Two Storm Panel to "review the preparedness, response and recovery efforts" after Tropical Storm Irene in August and the Nor'easter in October. Both storms left hundreds of thousands of state residents without power — in the case of the October storm for up to 12 days.

Members of the Two Storm Panel had experience in the military, municipal government, the non-profit and labor sectors, and disaster relief. They held nine meetings over several months and took testimony from about 100 witnesses.

Witt Associates, which was tasked by the state with examining Connecticut Light & Power's performance following the devastating October snowstorm, released a report in December that outlined where the utility fell short in its mission to restore power to more than 800,000 customers.

The final report of the Two Storm panel is attached to this article as a pdf.

kathleen jorgensen January 09, 2012 at 06:53 PM
No, CL&P makes a substantial profit every year and should have been maintaining and upgrading thier systems right along, they should not have waiting for the storm to decide to do all the upgrades and put the burden on thier customers, they have recived increases yearly now they want another 10% thats outrageous.
Rocky January 09, 2012 at 10:25 PM
The state, city, and town governments all need to address every tree that poses a risk. Shame on CL&P, their lack of foresight can not be justified rationally.
J A January 10, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Absolutely not. CL&P has enjoyed owning some of the highest utility rates in the country for a long time. So let's examine this "revelation" by the Governor and the those that developed the report. First we are all impacted, many lose household goods, businesses are forced to close (with only the hope that there would be some FEMA monies to compensate), people suffer through bitterly cold nights or face expenses in hotels (if you could find one), schools systems and children are impacted, the list could go on and on.. Yet despite the CEO of CL&P being forced out for basic incompetence (should we discuss CL&P not paying other states from the first storm) we, the people on the receiving end of all this, are supposed to willingly just add 10% to our already overpriced utility supplies. The fact that the committee even came to this as a recommendation is a pure slap in the face of Connecticut residents and shows how out of touch this Governor and the representatives are.
Jim G. January 10, 2012 at 03:32 PM
As a public utility, CL&P has certain caps on its profits - when the profits reach that cap, rates must be reduced or otherwise rebated to ratepayers. This was only lightly touched on in news reports and I don't see it addressed in the Two Storms Report (have not looked at the full text yet). What I have heard so far is that CL&P has been allowed to ignore this requirement and last addressed it in 2005 despite several years of increasing profits. I think CL&P can afford to cover the costs of hardening and preparation... boo hoo hoo to their stockholders.

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