FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — No Fairfield County resident would be expected to endure lengthy power outages after a storm if a bill just approved by the state Senate becomes law.
The bill would require the Public Utilities Regulator Authority to create performance standards and penalties for non-compliance for utility companies. It passed the Senate unanimously Saturday, according to a press release from State Sen. Carlo Leone.
“Hundreds of thousands of people were left without power for days after the two big storms that hit Connecticut last year," Leone said in the release. "Clearly, we need to make some big adjustments to how the utilities and the state respond to emergencies, and that’s exactly what this bill does." Leone, a Democrat, represents Stamford and Darien.
Standards to be set under the bill would address:
- Minimum staffing and equipment levels for outage planning and restoration (linemen, technicians, etc);
- Targets for recovery and restoration of service based on the proportion of affected customers;
- Mutual aid agreements with out-of-state companies to bring in surplus workers as needed;
- Communication between utilities and customers, including during non-business hours, and to notify the public of service restoration estimates and dangerous conditions;
- Communication between and amongst utilities and government officials;
- Tree trimming practices to reduce outages due to fallen limbs;
- Safety standards for employees of each utility, mutual aid crews and private contractors;
- Other standards as Public Utilities Regulator Authority deems fit to prevent or restore service outages.
A target date for the standards to be in place would be Nov. 1, 2012, and then utility companies would have to submit plans on how they would implement them. The plans would then be updated every two years, the release said.