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Himes Seeks Probe of CL&P's Storm Response

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – An investigation into the response of Connecticut Light & Power and its parent company, Northeast Utilities, to last weekend’s storm has been requested by U.S. Rep. Jim Himes and five other members of the Connecticut congressional delegation. More than 880,000 residents in Connecticut were initially left without power. Six days later, 300,000 customers in the state remain in the dark.

The letter calls for Jon Wellinghoff, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, to investigate whether CL&P and NU violated the Energy Policy Act of 2005 by restoring power to other Northeast states more quickly than in Connecticut.

“We are also deeply troubled by the reliability of the electric system in Connecticut, as this is the second major power disruption in the last two months. It has also come to our attention that utility customers in the state of Connecticut waited longer than any other state to have their power restored,” the letter says. “As a result, we request that you investigate Connecticut Light & Power and Northeast Utilities for any potential violations of Section 215 of the Federal Power Act.”

The full text of the letter is below.

November 4, 2011

The Honorable Jon Wellinghoff

Chairman

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

888 First Street, NE

Washington, DC 20426

Dear Chairman Wellinghoff:

As you are aware, the winter storm that ravaged the Northeast on October 29, 2011, left millions of households and business across the region without power. This disruption to our power system stopped commerce and left millions of our constituents vulnerable to freezing temperatures. We are also deeply troubled by the reliability of the electric system in Connecticut, as this is the second major power disruption in the last two months. It has also come to our attention that utility customers in the state of Connecticut waited longer than any other state to have their power restored. As a result, we request that you investigate Connecticut Light & Power and Northeast Utilities for any potential violations of Section 215 of the Federal Power Act.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005, amended the Federal Power Act and charged FERC with protecting and regulating the reliability of the bulk-power system. Immediately after the storm, we know that roughly 48 percent of households in Connecticut were without power. In Massachusetts and New Hampshire 20 percent and 60 percent of households were in the same situation. However, five days after the storm — the situation in Massachusetts and New Hampshire improved greatly with 25 percent and 8 percent of the households that’s lost power still down. Conversely, in Connecticut 54 percent of the customers that lost power were still down five days after the storm.

Therefore, we urge the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to immediately open an investigation into the disruption of the bulk power system in the State of Connecticut that was a result of the October 29, 2011, snowstorm.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Rosa DeLauro, Member of Congress

Joseph I. Lieberman, U.S. senator

Richard Blumenthal, U.S. senator

Christopher S. Murphy, Member of Congress

Joe Courtney, Member of Congress

Jim Himes, Member of Congress

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