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Conn. Legislature Passes Utility Reform Bill Including Payouts For Prolonged Outages

Connecticut State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) on the floor of the General Assembly on Oct. 1, 2020.
COURTESY OF CONNECTICUT SENATE DEMOCRATS
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Connecticut State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) on the floor of the General Assembly on Thursday.

Connecticut’s electric utilities would soon be required by law to reimburse customers up to $250 for spoiled food and medicine caused by prolonged power outages. State lawmakers passed a bill to that effect in a special session this week.

The bill is in reaction to customer outcry over the slow response of the state’s largest utility Eversource, to widespread power outages following Tropical Storm Isaias. Senator Norm Needleman is co-chair of the Energy Committee. He says it also caps the amount of ratepayer funds that the utility can use for executive pay.

“If the shareholders believe the executive should be paid more, they can give them whatever additional compensation they wish. It must be paid out of company profit and not ratepayer money,” Needleman said.

Lawmakers were outraged that Eversource CEO Jim Judge was paid nearly $20 million last year, based on performance bonuses.

The bill passed the House on Wednesday and the Senate on Thursday. Governor Ned Lamont is expected to soon sign it into law.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.