Connecticut Light & Power struck back Monday at Attorney General George Jepsen, who asked state regulators to punish the state’s largest utility for its response to two storms last year.
In a filing with the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, the Northeast Utilities subsidiary said Jepsen failed to prove the utility fell short of clearly understood industry standards in restoring power.
CL&P also said Jepsen has not connected what he criticized as the utility’s failure to more quickly restore power and certain storm restoration costs.
“The company does not claim, and it has never claimed, that its restoration efforts were perfect,” CL&P said. “But perfection is not the legal standard for evaluating the company’s performance.”
Jepsen asked regulators last week to reject up to half of recovery costs of last year’s tropical storm and autumn snowfall and impose penalties. He said CL&P mismanaged its storm response.
Jaclyn Falkowski, a spokeswoman for Jepsen, responded to CL&P’s response by reiterating that regulators should “assess meaningful penalties” against CL&P.
Hundreds of thousands of businesses and residents were left without power for as long as 11 days following an Oct. 29 snowstorm. CL&P was subjected to widespread criticism from state and municipal officials who said delays in restoring service were unacceptable.
The storm followed by two months the remnants of Hurricane Irene, which became a tropical storm before hitting Connecticut, also knocking out power to thousands of residents and businesses.
Jepsen called on the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to reject as much as 30 percent to 50 percent of CL&P’s 2011 storm restoration and recovery costs of $290 million. An alternative could be a reduction by regulators of CL&P’s profit earned by shareholders, he said.
CL&P said several consultants found that its performance was consistent with industry norms. It cited a study commissioned by Witt Associates, which was hired by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
CL&P quoted Jepsen saying in November 2011, shortly after the freak autumn snowstorm, that lawyers in his office would work with Witt Associates to assess the information.
“The AG now appears to be distancing itself from Witt because the AG has reached conclusions that contradict Witt’s expert findings about CL&P’s overall restoration performance,” the utility said.
The utilities’ response to the two storms has been the subject of reviews. The Connecticut legislature, following an examination by a commission appointed by Malloy, established minimum performance standards for emergency preparation and response for electric and gas companies.
CL&P said it is aware of “numerous opportunities for improvement” and has already made “meaningful changes” and will continue to do so.
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