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10/7/2019 - Public Utilities Regulatory Authority Holding Public Comment Hearing to Review Standards for Emergency Performance by UI and Other Electric Companies

The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (Authority or PURA) will hold a Public Comment Hearing regarding response time and staffing of Electric Distribution Companies such as United Illuminating (UI) during an emergency.

The Public Comment Hearing will be held on Tuesday, November 12, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. in Fire Training Classroom A at the Fairfield Regional Fire School, 205 Richard White Way, Fairfield. The entrance to Richard White Way is located across from Veteran’s Park on Reef Road. The Fairfield Regional Fire School is located on the left.

In addition to PURA officials attending the Public Comment Hearing, First Selectman Mike Tetreau, Fire Chief Denis McCarthy, Tree Warden Jeff Minder and members of the Town’s Police, Fire and DPW departments will also be present. The hearing is not exclusive to UI communities.

Fire Chief Denis McCarthy stated, “This will be Fairfield’s opportunity to press our case for improved staffing and response by United Illuminating particularly during major weather events.” Following an incident in July on Park Avenue when a tree fell on a vehicle killing the driver who was entangled in UI wires, the Fairfield and Bridgeport Fire Chiefs requested PURA hold this hearing for the public and town officials to voice their comments, concerns and ask questions pertaining to response times and other matters in emergency situations involving the electric utility.

Background: On June 28, 2019, Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (Authority or PURA) established this proceeding pursuant to Special Act No. 19-15, An Act Requiring the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to Study Performance Standards and Minimum Staffing and Equipment Levels for Electric Distribution Companies (the Act) to conduct a study and produce a report as required by the Act. That report will contain the results of PURA’s study of industry-specific standards for acceptable performance by an electric distribution company in an emergency, and minimum staffing and equipment levels for each electric distribution company that operates in the state.

The sole purpose of this hearing is to hear public comment on this matter prior to PURA’s preparation of a report for the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to energy and technology. The Authority may continue the hearing on additional dates in other locations, as deemed necessary.

Letters will be accepted from members of the general public who have an interest in the outcome of this proceeding through the last day of the hearing. The Authority will maintain a file of any letters so accepted in the offices of the Executive Secretary. The file may be reviewed during the regular office hours of the Authority.

The public may call the Authority’s offices at (860) 827-1553, Option 4 (using a touch tone phone), commencing each day from 7:30 a.m. to be advised as to whether this hearing has been cancelled or postponed due to inclement weather. Persons with special needs in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act who wish to attend this noticed event should contact the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection at (860) 418-5910 or deep.accommodations@ct.gov.

About PURA:

The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) is statutorily charged with regulating the rates and services of Connecticut's investor owned electricity, natural gas, water and telecommunication companies and is the franchising authority for the state’s cable television companies. In the industries that are still wholly regulated, PURA balances the public’s right to safe, adequate and reliable utility service at reasonable rates with the provider’s right to a reasonable return on its investment. PURA also keeps watch over competitive utility services to promote equity among the competitors while customers reap the price and quality benefits of competition and are protected from unfair business practices.

PURA replaces the former Department of Public Utility Control (DPUC) and along with the Bureau of Energy and Technology Policy, is part of the Energy Branch of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). DEEP was created in July 2011 and brings together the state's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Department of Public Utility Control (DPUC) and an energy policy group that had been based at the Office of Policy and Management.

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