As Eversource and United Illuminating Struggle, Smaller Utilities Across Connecticut Shine in Storm Response

Municipal electric utilities with small and compact customer bases — like Norwich Public Utilities and Town of Wallingford Electric Division — have made quick progress restoring power to customers after Tropical Storm Isaias even as hundreds of thousands of customers of Eversource and United Illuminating remain without power on Thursday night. By the end of Wednesday night, Norwich Public Utilities had restored power to 5,500 of the 6,500 affected customers. The utility expects that 99 percent of its customers will have power by the end of Thursday, just two days after about a third of Norwich’s 20,000 customers lost power.

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99% of Old Lyme Loses Electricity — Tops in Connecticut — as Emergency Warning System Goes Silent

Within hours of Tropical Storm Isaias hitting the shoreline of Connecticut on Tuesday more than 99 percent of residents and businesses in Old Lyme had lost power. Two days later, 78 percent are still in the dark. Statewide, Old Lyme was the municipality with the highest percentage of outages and East Lyme had the highest number of customers without power. By 4 p.m. “we lost all our ability to communicate on Tuesday,” said Dave Roberge, the emergency director of Old Lyme, on Thursday morning. “We lost phone, internet, electronic communication and were unable to send out a reverse 911 until

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Break Bulk Cargo to Stay a Part of State Pier Wind Project

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The transformation of State Pier into an offshore wind facility exclusive of other uses has been part of conversations at Connecticut Port Authority meetings for months, but a permit application made public yesterday from the Army Corps of Engineers specifies the continuing support of break bulk cargo operations.  “The purpose of this project is to create infrastructure in Connecticut that will serve as a long-term, regional wind turbine generator (WTG) port facility while at the same time continuing to support other existing long term break bulk operations for steel, coil steel, lumber, copper billets, as well as other cargo,” stated

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Lawyers and Legislators Debate Costs and Benefits as Policing Bill is Signed into Law

On Thursday Governor Ned Lamont signed into law “An Act Concerning Police Accountability,” after two late nights of debate in the House and the Senate. The legislation includes more than 40 substantive changes to policing in Connecticut, from new requirements regarding the use of lethal force to provisions for allowing civilian review boards on the municipal level, but the public debate and politics surrounding the bill has nevertheless focused overwhelmingly on Section 41 of the bill, which addresses the issue of qualified immunity for police officers.  Proponents of the bill, including State Rep. Steven Stafstrom, D-Bridgeport, and State Sen. Gary

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Test Delays Raise Questions — Spur Efforts to Reduce Wait — for COVID-19 Diagnoses

Whether to go to work, to travel out-of-state, be admitted to a hospital or for some just to visit friends and family, many individuals across Connecticut are required to take a diagnostic test for COVID-19. The test, which is now widely available and reimbursed by insurance companies, indicates whether an individual is carrying the virus at the time of the procedure. But with the results taking on average a week to arrive, they may already be overtaken by new infection and no longer accurate. “Demand for our molecular diagnostic testing remains high as the virus has spread across much of

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Interim Commissioner Describes $21 Million Deficit, Declining Prison Population and Infections

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With increased overtime, sick leave and inmate medical costs, the state Department of Corrections ended fiscal year 2020 with a $21 million deficit. “At the peak time of COVID-19 in April, we were averaging 320 staff members out sick per day for all three shifts,” explained Interim Commissioner Angel Quiros at an Appropriations Committee meeting on Monday afternoon. “In May and June, it started decreasing to 15 percent of our staff, but we saw an increase as soon as the executive order was signed by the governor allowing individuals who used their 14-day COVID leave, but tested positive, to have

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PURA Orders Eversource to Restore Prior Rates for Electricity to Customers in Connecticut

With public outcry escalating about higher electric bills, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority ordered Eversource on Friday to immediately restore delivery rates that were in effect on June 30. PURA said the agency had received numerous complaints related to the increased delivery charges incurred by Eversource ratepayers and will temporarily suspend approval of the new rates.  “Due to the convergence of a number of recent events, including the July 1st administrative adjustment to certain delivery rate components, the COVID-19 crisis and its corresponding effect on customer energy usage, as well as the higher than normal temperatures this month, Eversource customers

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Sara Bronin Steps Down After 7 Years on Hartford’s Planning and Zoning Commission, Sets Sights on Housing Statewide

“Zoning first arose 100 years ago in the 1920s to help to order the city, to separate uses from each other and frankly to separate people from people,” said Sara Bronin. “While Connecticut did not have explicit racial zoning like many Southern cities did, the effects of Connecticut zoning laws have been no less discriminatory in effect.”  Bronin, an architect and law professor at the University of Connecticut, has stepped down as chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission of the City of Hartford, in part to work with DesegregateCT, a coalition of more than thirty organizations focused on statewide

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Late Start, Short Season, Regional Competition for High School Sports in Connecticut

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference announced Friday that fall sports competition will not begin until September 24 and will last just six weeks. “There were two key factors at play in pushing back the start date for games,” said Glenn Lungarini, the executive director of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference. “We wanted our schools to have the best chance to get back in-person or hybrid and the recommendations from our doctors and athletic trainers was that it is important to have a prescribed build-up of training since the students haven’t had any structured activity for six months.” In other words,

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New Guidance Suggests Middlesex County Schools on Track for Reopening, While New London County Lags

One week after school districts across the state were required to submit “return to school plans,” outlining in-person, hybrid and remote models of instruction, local school officials have been given guidance by the state for switching between the three plans of schooling. According to an addendum released on Thursday to the Connecticut Department of Education plan for reopening schools, local school officials are expected to base reopening decisions on “indicators of the spread and prevalence of COVID-19 in the community” and the ability of local schools to cope with the virus, given the the physical and operational constraints of district

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DEEP Moves to Streamline Permitting Process for Businesses under the Clean Air Act

In a 12 to 0 vote on Tuesday, the Legislative Regulation Review Committee approved a set of permanent regulations that will replace temporary permits used by Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to limit emissions from facilities regulated under the federal Clean Air Act. The state has required facilities with emissions regulated under the Clean Air Act to renew permits every five years. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had told DEEP it would not renew the state general permit. Chief of the DEEP Bureau of Air Management Tracy Babbidge explained that EPA preferred that Connecticut implement a “permit by

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As Eversource Sharply Increases Electricity Costs for Connecticut Customers, Millstone Deal Blamed, Lawmakers Call for Hearings

Questions continue to mount about increases in electricity delivery charges on Eversource bills of many Connecticut residents and businesses since July 1.  Eversource has pointed to a “variety of factors” leading to the increases, but legislators on the Energy and Technology Committee have requested that the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) suspend the increase until a thorough review can be done.  According to Tricia Modifica, a spokesman for Eversource, “The biggest factor is the state energy policy that was passed by the state legislature in 2017 that requires Eversource and United Illuminating to purchase power from Millstone Nuclear Power Plant

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CT Examiner’s Weekend Crossword

This week’s crossword puzzle is “Sound Fountain Orders.” As always, send you completed puzzles to editor@ctexaminer.com You can download a print copy of the puzzle here Last week’s puzzle solution…

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An ‘Elevated Lobster Shack’ Opens on Essex Island

“We fell in love with the island, just the feeling that you get. We felt like when you cross the ferry, you’re actually on vacation as soon as you arrive on the little island,” said Christina Pahis. “You feel almost like you left Connecticut.” For eight years, Essex residents Avni Krasniqi and Pahis have owned and operated Haywire Burger Bar in Westbrook, CT, and on June 8, the couple opened Siren Kitchen & Bar on Essex Island at Safe Harbor Marina. “We saw that the space has become available, and we said, ‘Let’s just kind of satisfy our curiosity and

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Blacker: Questions Promise of Multi-use State Pier, Calls for Public Hearing

I appreciated Cate Hewitt’s article on State Pier. CT Examiner continues to showcase exemplary newspaper reporting. According to CPA Chairman David Kooris, State Pier will remain a multi-use port.  I disagree. To quote the good judgement of Congressman Joe Courtney: I have to confess. They say they’re going to accommodate other users but I, uh, every time I look at the plans, it doesn’t really look like there’s any space for them to do that. Courtney expressed the hope that the port authority would instead take the opportunity to modify or at least confirm that other users are going to be

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Blacker: The Weakness of our Freight Planning Program in Southeast Connecticut

I enjoyed Jim Cameron’s Aug. 3 column on a great example of commonsense, innovation, and efficiency: the shipping container. In a recent article Cameron laments that a feeder barge service to move shipping containers from places like Port Elizabeth, NJ to Connecticut  with out clogging I-95 was never established. The Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments has an important meeting tomorrow.   SECCOG Executive Director Jim Butler said that the Federal Highway and Federal Transit are aware of  “the weakness of our freight planning program in Southeastern Connecticut.”  (20:50 on the recording of 7/15/19 SECCOG BOD Meeting).  This will be the

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Shipping Containers

They’re just a big metal box, but they’ve revolutionized the transportation world in the last decades, enabling global trade at unimaginable levels and changing all of our lives.  The story of the invention of the shipping container is an unheralded part of transportation history. In the old days, freighters carrying cargo overseas loaded and unloaded pallets or bails of cargo, one at a time.  I witnessed this myself as a child when my father, a real fan of the seas, took me on cargo ships as a passenger on trips from the Great Lakes to the Caribbean. At each port

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Dinner at George and Kellyanne’s

The invitation made it seem is if the event was some sort of charity benefit and, I apparently, would be an honored guest. I deduced that from envelope, as it was intimately addressed to “Dear Occupant.” I figured, well, Kellyanne or George were targeting those of us with deep pockets (containing up to $100 or more) for a good cause. But when I arrived at the Conway house, I learned otherwise.             “Welcome,” Kellyanne said, as she opened the door to the house on Embassy Row. I glanced around and saw so no other people in the enormous living room,

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