Eversource Facing $30 Million Fine for Storm Efforts, and UI $2.1 Million

Eversource and United Illuminating were warned today that each could pay millions of dollars in fines for what regulators say are failures to respond appropriately to Tropical Storm Isaias last August. On Thursday, both companies were issued notices of violations for what regulators at PURA say are failures to comply with performance standards and accident reporting requirements set by state law.  Eversource faces fines totaling $30 million and United Illuminating faces fines of $2.1 million. The authorities can request a hearing to dispute PURA’s findings.  The fines can be implemented in multiple ways, including as a customer bill credit, according

More

$460,000 Stamp Proceeds Fund 21 Local Projects Battling Aquatic Invasives

A new registration fee on boats is giving groups that work to combat invasive aquatic species a steady source of state funding for the first time, providing some help to the uphill battle of fending off fast-spreading plants like hydrilla and water chestnut. Beginning in 2020, all Connecticut boat owners were required to purchase a $5 invasive species stamp to operate a boat, and out-of-state boaters had to pay $25 for the stamp. As of December 2020, the boaters had purchased $460,000 worth of stamps, of which $360,000 was issued as grants.  The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection used

More

Salt Business Files Objection to State Pier Permitting

The owner of a road salt distributor forced off of the New London State Pier to make way for offshore wind developers filed an objection with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, to permit approvals failing to accommodate his business. Steve Farrelly, owner of the road salt distributor DRVN, which has rented about 3.5 acres on the pier since 2014, said in a formal objection filed with the department that he had been given to understand that existing tenants on the pier would be able to stay through the redevelopment and beyond. Instead, DRVN was told to leave or

More

In Vote, Durham Opts for Multiyear Redevelopment of Korn School

DURHAM – In March, the Korn School appeared to be heading towards demolition, but after a successful petition and referendum, the Town of Durham has decided to take over the empty school after all, with the intention of converting the closed building into a multi-purpose community center over the coming years. Durham residents voted 708-546 to have the town take the school from the Region 13 School District for $1 on Tuesday. They also voted 630-606 to approve drawing $1 million from the town’s building reserve fund for the initial project costs, according to unofficial results that include absentee ballots.

More

Middletown Council Tables Effort to Withdraw From Power Plant Agreement

/

MIDDLETOWN – Despite council members’ objections to plans to build a new natural gas-fired turbine at a Middletown power plant, efforts to end a tax agreement with the plant’s owner have been put temporarily on hold. Mayor Ben Florsheim said during the Common Council meeting Monday night that Princeton, New Jersey-based NRG is open to pursuing a “mutual withdrawal or termination” from a tax stabilization agreement for the company’s power plant on the Connecticut River in south Middletown, which the council approved in 2019. The council voted to table the motion to end the agreement, and to take the measure

More

As Health Information Exchange Launches, Patient Advocates Warn of ‘Subscriptions’ to Private Data

After 15 years of false starts and $43 million dollars spent, Connecticut’s long-awaited health information exchange is finally “open for business,” state officials announced on Monday. The exchange is expected to collect and share patient data between healthcare providers across the state, which officials say will improve care, reduce redundant testing and lower healthcare costs through efficiency.  But a funding strategy that charges “subscriptions” for access to that health data has raised privacy concerns for patient advocates who warn of a lack of clarity regarding who will have access to that data. Ellen Andrews, executive director of the Connecticut Health

More

Spending, Equity, Health Outcomes at Heart of TCI Debate

Dr. Mark Mitchell was taking his daily walk around Hartford – the city where he had lived and worked for over a decade – when he felt a pain in his chest. Mitchell was leading a relatively active and healthy lifestyle, but all four of the main blood vessels of his heart were partially clogged.  Mitchell said he is the first person in his family to have coronary artery disease, and the first to have asthma. He is also the first person in his family to live in Hartford – he grew up in an outer suburb of St. Louis,

More

Regulators Condemn Eversource and UI Storm Response, Cut Fixed Rates of Return

In uncharacteristically strong language, state utility regulators condemned Eversource and United Illuminating and ordered changes and financial penalties for their responses to Tropical Storm Isaias last August. The board of PURA — the state’s regulator of utilities — on Wednesday unanimously affirmed the findings of the authority’s investigation into the utilities’ responses to the damaging storm that left hundreds of thousands of people without power, some for over a week, last summer. The authority found that Eversource failed to sufficiently prepare to respond to the storm, in particular failing to secure enough outside help in the early days of the

More

Officials Warn UI Settlement Would Delay ‘Take Back Our Grid’ Reforms

Gov. Ned Lamont and Attorney General William Tong announced a settlement agreement six weeks ago that they said would give needed relief to customers of United Illuminating by returning money the company has been over-collecting since the federal corporate tax rate was reduced from 35 to 21 percent in 2017. On Monday, the merits of that settlement were sharply questioned by state regulators, who warned that the deal could lock customers into a higher rate for the next two years than might be necessary without the settlement, and could frustrate performance-based reforms the state legislature ordered last year. In the

More

Studio Credits Net Connecticut Taxpayers a $92.8 Million Loss

A Greenwich-based animation studio collected $242.5 million in tax credits during its 12-year run in Connecticut – and state auditors say $66.8 million of that was improperly given. Blue Sky Studio, a digital animation studio best known for its work on blockbuster films including Tron and Ice Age, was shut down by Disney this month, and laid off over 400 employees after the ubiquitous media company bought the studio’s previous owner, 20th Century Fox. Blue Sky started in Greenwich in 1987, but moved to White Plains, New York in 2002. The company moved back to Greenwich in 2009 to take

More

Guilford P&Z Votes for Change to Allow for Multifamily Development

GUILFORD — The town’s Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously Wednesday night to approve a change in zoning that will allow a shoreline developer to apply to build multifamily housing along the Boston Post Road. Mystic-based Greylock Development Group has a purchase contract to buy 38.8 acres at 2222 and 2240 Boston Post Road, about a mile north of Interstate 95, with plans to develop multi-family housing.  The change affects the front 18.7 acres of the property that Greylock intends to develop. Greylock Managing Partner Ken Navarro said they intend to transfer the remaining 20.1 acres – mostly wetlands that

More

Diamantis Aims to Clear the Air After Contentious Port Authority Meeting

In an effort to clear the record after a contentious board meeting on Tuesday, Deputy Secretary for the Office of Policy and Management Kosta Diamantis told CT Examiner that rising cost estimates for redeveloping State Pier in New London were the direct result of efforts to be transparent with the public after early missteps by the previous administration. Diamantis told CT Examiner on Wednesday that the rising cost estimates are typical for construction projects, but that it’s not common to release early estimates based on incomplete designs.  Despite cost estimates that have risen from $93 million to $157 million to

More

Korn School Vote Set for May 4 — a $1 Million Decision

DURHAM – Voters will decide May 4 whether the town of Durham should take over the former Korn School and set aside $1 million for initial repairs and to plan a multi-phase project to develop it into a community center. The referendum will follow a town meeting at 7 p.m. on April 27, at Coginchaug Regional High School. Voting will also be at the high school, and will be combined with the vote on the annual town budget. A petition that gathered 118 valid signatures requires the town to ask at a town meeting if the town should take over

More

As State Pier Costs Come in High of Estimates, Lawmakers ask ‘How High?’

/

The Connecticut State Bond Commission approved an additional $55 million for the New London State Pier redevelopment project on Friday – which officials said is now estimated to cost a total of $235.5 million. The costs for controversial plans to redevelop the State Pier into a staging ground for planned offshore wind projects – touted by state officials but facing local opposition, particularly from businesses that use the pier – were originally pegged at $93 million.  The price was later estimated to be about $157 million, before Gov. Ned Lamont told The Day editorial board in January that the costs

More

Middletown Offers Tax Help for Historic Renovations

MIDDLETOWN —  Soon Middletown property owners willing to complete at least $15,000 of restoration work on a historic structure could qualify for up to 10 years of full or partial property tax abatements.  The Middletown Common Council last week voted unanimously to approve the program. Middletown Director of Planning, Conservation and Development Joe Samolis said he’s wanted to set up this kind of program ever since he started working for the city. Samolis previously worked at the State Historic Preservation Office. “I was well aware of the federal aid programs that were available for the general public to use [for

More

Question of Korn School Renovations Heads to Town Meeting in Durham

DURHAM — Weeks after the town’s Board of Selectman appeared to reject a possible renovation and reuse of the Frances E. Korn Elementary School, the issue is again on the table and will be the subject of a town meeting later this month. The board voted 3-0 in March to reject an offer to take possession of the former elementary school at no cost to the town, as an alternative to demolition by the Region 13 School District. Eileen Buckheit said she circulated the petition that called for the April 26 meeting after she heard from other Durham residents who

More

Costs and Benefits Debated as Connecticut Moves Toward Carbon Caps for Gas and Diesel

The Transportation and Climate Initiative will almost certainly cost owners of gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles more at the pump if lawmakers sign onto the multistate agreement. The program will require fuel suppliers to purchase emissions allowances for the fuels they sell in participating states. The Office of the Governor estimates that the program will generate annual revenues of up to $89 million by 2023, and as much as $117 million by 2032.” How much TCI will cost consumers — and whether those costs are outweighed by the benefits of the program —  is a matter of debate.  Each year under

More

Siting Council to Hold Public Hearing on 47-acre North Stonington Solar Project

/

NORTH STONINGTON — The Connecticut Siting Council will hold a public hearing for a proposed 47-acre solar project in the town that has drawn scrutiny from residents and town officials who have questioned whether the residential site is suitable for a large solar development. Nashville-based Silicon Ranch has proposed building a 9.9 megawatt solar project that would cover about 47 acres of land on the north side of Interstate 95, west of Boombridge Road. The project, which would involve clearing about 46 acres of forest. Town officials requested the public hearing, and for the deadline for public comments to be

More

State Regulators Reject Service Disconnections by Eversource and UI

State regulators rejected plans by Connecticut’s two largest electric utilities to begin disconnecting service to customers with unpaid bills, after audits of customer phone calls turned up instances when the companies failed to provide sufficient information regarding options for payment plans. PURA ruled on Monday that Eversource, United Illuminating, and their gas subsidiaries cannot reapply for regulatory approval until Gov. Ned Lamont’s declaration of a state of emergency expires or the regulated winter protection period ends on May 1.  According to the ruling, UI and Eversource provided customers with “inconsistent and incomplete” information about payment plan options, and both companies,

More

State Police Step Away as Towns Face State Mandate on Body Cams

Towns served by the resident trooper program learned last month that Connecticut State Police will no longer store and administer dashboard camera footage for individual departments, and will also leave the departments to find their own solutions for storing body camera footage required as part of the Police Accountability Bill passed last summer in special session.  State Police Col. Stavros Mellekas sent notification to the 55 towns served by at least one resident state trooper. Towns are required to outfit their constables with cameras by July 2022.  “Please know that DESPP State Police shall not be responsible for the purchase

More

Regulators Warn that Third-Party Suppliers Usually Add to Electric Bills

Electricity in Connecticut is expensive, and for customers of Eversource and United Illuminating the possibility of lower-cost power from a third-party supplier can look attractive, but in a report released this week state regulators concluded that those alternatives usually end up costing customers significantly more for the same energy. According to a draft of PURA’s annual report to state lawmakers on the deregulated electric market, most customers who signed up for variable rate electric contracts ended up paying higher prices than they would have under the standard service contract in 2020. The higher cost of third-party energy suppliers was even

More

Compromise Boosts Share of Cap-and-Trade Revenues for Environmental Justice

/

HARTFORD — The state legislature’s Environmental Committee approved a compromise bill that significantly increases the amount of revenues directed toward communities with the highest levels of motor vehicle pollution. Environmental justice advocates had criticized a previous draft of the bill, part of a cap-and-trade proposal for motor fuels, for not doing enough to address the disparate impacts of air pollution. The legislation, which now must be approved in the senate, would set aside 50 percent of revenues from the Transportation Climate Initiative Program for projects in communities with high levels of pollution from vehicles, or that are underserved by transportation

More

Bill to Ease Outdoor Dining Approvals Heads to Senate After 141-0 Vote in the House

The Connecticut House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill that attempts to streamline the process for restaurants to start or continue offering outdoor dining, which has been a lifeline for restaurants that have lived with capacity restrictions throughout the pandemic. The bill, approved in the House by a vote of 141-0, now goes to the Senate for final approval. Until March 31, 2022, the bill would allow restaurants to apply to local zoning officials to offer  outdoor dining without submitting a fee or the site surveys or other plans typically needed in zoning applications. Instead the restaurant would submit a

More

House Legislators Extend Emergency Powers by Party-line Vote

The Connecticut House of Representatives voted 90-50 along party lines on Thursday to approve a bill that would extend Gov. Ned Lamont’s emergency declarations for another month. Citing the possibility of losing federal funds if the emergency declarations lapsed, Democrats advanced a bill to the State Senate that would extend Lamont’s emergency authority until May 20. Pushing back on familiar complaints from Republican leaders that the legislature has abdicated its responsibility during the pandemic, State Rep. Mike D’Agostino, D-Hamden, chair of the  General Laws Committee, said that the governor’s emergency authority was granted by lawmakers in a state statute passed

More

Rise in Unemployment to 8.5% Triggers Added Benefit for Thousands in Connecticut

Thousands of people collecting unemployment benefits in Connecticut will have them for an additional seven weeks as the state’s three-month average unemployment rate rose above 8 percent in February. About 28,000 people filing for state extended unemployment benefits will be eligible for seven additional weeks of benefits. The Connecticut Department of Labor said in a news release that it will let those eligible know about the extension. “High Extended Benefits will infuse millions of dollars into households and the economy as both recover from the pandemic,” Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby said in the release. “Over the past year, CTDOL has

More

Killingworth Officials Announce Public Forums on Water Contamination

KILLINGWORTH — Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, were detected in three wells serving the age 55+ Beechwood Community, but only one of the wells exceeded state guidelines. Officials at Connecticut Water assured residents that the water, once treated, is safe to drink. Three wells registered levels of PFAS greater than 10 parts per trillion. Only one well exceeded the state guidelines of 70 ppt for the total accumulations of five specific PFAS chemicals in drinking water.  Connecticut Water stated in a release that because drinking water is treated, the guidelines “apply only to the treated water and not

More

Senate Votes 30-3 to Delay and Amend Police Accountability Provisions

The State Senate approved a delay in provisions of last summer’s wide-ranging police accountability bill that would restrict when officers are allowed to use deadly force. The Senate voted 30-3 to pass the legislation, which will delay the starting date of new use-of-force standards implemented in the police accountability bill until Jan. 1, 2022, and amends language in those guidelines to ease some thresholds for action. The bill now heads to Gov. Ned Lamont for his signature. State Sen. Dennis Bradley, D-Bridgeport, was one of three senators who voted against the bill.  Bradley explained that when the legislature approved the

More

Selectmen Vote to Decline Offer of Korn Elementary

DURHAM — The Durham Board of Selectmen declined to take possession of the Korn School building from the Region 13 School District, citing concerns with the cost to renovate and operate the elementary school. Region 13 offered the former Frances E. Korn Elementary School to Durham at no cost, saying that if the town doesn’t take the building, the district would demolish it. The school board made the offer a year ago and set a deadline of March 31 for a decision. First Selectman Laura Francis attempted assemble enough information to bring the question to a referendum: Should the town take

More

State Regulators Announce Limits to Eversource Cost Recovery

Eversource will be prevented from recovering a large portion of the costs of Tropical Storm Isaias, state utility regulators announced Friday evening in a draft decision based on an investigation into widespread and lengthy power outages stemming from the August storm.  The state’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority will still take public comment on the decision before the board can vote on whether to approve the decision, but its investigation concluded that Eversource was not “reasonable or prudent” in managing its municipal liaisons, executing the Make Safe programs, communicating critical information to customers or in securing adequate resources in the first

More

An Early Flood of Applications as Federal Aid is Directed Toward Late Rent and Electricity Bills

Since the program was announced on Tuesday, over four thousand households have applied for help paying off overdue electric and rent bills using $235 million of federal COVID aid to Connecticut. The payments are available to landlords of tenants who are earning up to 80 percent of the HUD median area income. The application process requires tenants and landlords to work together to complete designated sections of the application for assistance. They can start the application process online. The program, called UniteCT, can provide landlords up to $10,000 in rental assistance and up to $1,500 in assistance for overdue electric

More
1 2 3 6