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POLL: How Do You Feel About Northeast Utilities' Offer of Compensation?

Company increases post-storm fund to $30 million.

When Northeast Utilities established a post-storm fund to compensate customers after lengthy power outages earlier this month, it was $10 million. After an outcry that the fund was too small, the company upped the total to $30 million in an announcement on Tuesday.

"As we heard from our customers and had discussions with Governor Malloy and his staff, it became clear that the original sum we proposed, $10 million, was insufficient," said Charles W. Shivery, chairman, president and chief executive officer of NU, in a news release. "While this storm was unprecedented, we set very high expectations for the performance of Connecticut Light and Power. Clearly, we did not meet a number of those expectations."

With the new fund, any residential customer who was without power after noon on Saturday, Nov. 5, is eligible for a credit on their CL&P bill of between $100 and $200, depending on how many people apply.

Foodshare, Operation Fuel and the Connecticut Food Bank will also receive donations from the fund. Each will initially receive $1 million, though the total donated could reach $5 million.

The fund will open next Wednesday, Dec. 7. According to the release, CL&P will begin contacting customers who are eligible for the credit, but customers can also apply for the credit at the company's website or by calling 888-566-9257. Applications are due by Jan. 31 at 5 p.m. and credits will be applied to the February bill.

Maria Giannuzzi February 17, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Excellent question, M. Troy. The state agency which regulates CL&P should have the answer. In the future I think the money in CL&P's tree trimming budget should be increased and turned over to the towns so that they can trim branches and take out trees when necessary (and replace them with small ornamental trees). Most towns have been doing this in the aftermath of the storm and have a process in place. Any increased cost for tree trimming should be borne by CL&P shareholders and management (less compensation) and not their customers. It's a big, big job and I think it unlikely that one company, even with the resources of CL&P, can accomplish this task.
Jim G. February 17, 2012 at 02:46 PM
I agree with most of your comments except the last - the job is well within the capabilities of a single company that has no other purpose, when they are well-funded to do so and have year after year to keep up the maintenance they are paid for and charged with doing. I suppose looking at it as some emergency job that must be done before the next set of storms makes it seem daunting, but that's not how the job should be viewed or executed. It seems like CL&P should have made some progress towards line clearance in the last five years or so, given that some fifty percent of our electric bills go specifically to them for power delivery and infrastructure maintenance. Some outages are to be expected (as is reasonably expeditious repair)... but it still looks as if the damage was grossly magnified in both storms because of the lack of routine line clearance and trimming *that was paid for and never done*. If CL&P has to spend itself into poverty doing on a rush basis the job they should have been doing all along, I have no tears for them or their greed-stricken board.
Maria Giannuzzi February 17, 2012 at 03:29 PM
I see your point, but will CL&P spend itself into poverty to trim trees? Will the state regulatory agency with authority over CL&P mandate this? Doubtful. I have no tears for CL&P either, and they should be fined if they were obligated to and then failed to trim trees, but it is unlikely that CL&P has the necessary capability to accomplish this task within a short timeframe. They certainly have the monetary resources, but do they have the coordination and logistical capability that is required?
M. Troy February 17, 2012 at 03:44 PM
I am just saying for years the utility cos. were given money to trim trees. What happened. Did they trim or use the money for something else. I don't expect them to go broke trimming our trees but I don't remember seeing trees trimed in the past few years I just watched them grow.
Maria Giannuzzi February 17, 2012 at 03:53 PM
I believe CL&P reduced their tree trimming budget. Tree trimming was not a priority, so not much of it was done across the state. The only tree trimming I saw done in Windsor Locks was at the Senior Housing Complex. I believe they were CL&P personnel doing the trimming, but it might have been a private contractor. There is a tree on a nearby street with a large branch close to and extending over the power lines, but that was not trimmed. As far as I know, it's still there (unless the town trimmed it when it was doing clean-up).

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