Conn. power company facing audit

Jessica M. Karmasek Nov. 16, 2011, 12:21pm


HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said Tuesday state utility regulators have agreed to an audit of Connecticut Light & Power Co., the company at the center of a prolonged power outage caused by a rare October snow storm.

"I am gratified at the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority's speedy response to my request for a management audit of Connecticut Light & Power Co," Jepsen said in a statement.

"The regulators agreed today to add an independent management audit to the scope of their review of CL&P's preparedness for and response to major outage events. I look forward to working through the PURA process to ensure that the audit is independent, broad and thorough."

Earlier Tuesday, Jepsen asked the regulators to include the audit as part of its review of the utility's responsiveness.

"In less than two years, CL&P has failed adequately to prepare for and respond to three major outage events," he said in a filing with PURA.

Those events include a March 12, 2010 storm that hit southwest Connecticut, Tropical Storm Irene on Aug. 27-28 and the snow storm on Oct. 29.

At the height of the October storm -- of which heavy, wet snow weighed down trees and branches, causing much of the outages -- about 3 million Northeast residents lost power.

Almost two weeks later, thousands in Connecticut were still without electricity.

"PURA must consider and examine whether CL&P management handled these outage events competently and what changes should be put in place to ensure that such situations are handled competently in the future," Jepsen said.

Last month, PURA announced it would hire a consultant to provide technical expertise to its staff as it conducts its review.

Jepsen says the management audit could provide answers to more "fundamental" questions, including whether the utility was adequately prepared for storms of such magnitude; whether it secured appropriate levels of additional tree and line crews; and whether it was prepared to properly supervise and manage the crews called in to assist.

The attorney general, in a separate filing, also has requested more information about the ownership of utility poles in the state's power distribution network, and the policies and procedures for inspecting, maintaining and replacing the equipment.

He directed the questions at electricity providers CL&P and United Illuminating Co., as well as telecommunications companies AT&T Connecticut and Verizon New York Inc.

In Connecticut, electric and telephone companies share the responsibility of maintaining utility poles to carry their various service lines to customers.

Jepsen's office also is participating in a separate review of the electric utilities' storm related performance by Witt Associates. That review is expected to be completed by Dec. 1.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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