Connecticut Attorney General asks utility regulators to reduce CL&P recovery request [New Haven Register, Conn.]
(New Haven Register (CT) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Nov. 02--HARTFORD -- Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen Friday urged state utility regulators to significantly reduce the $414 million that Connecticut Light and Power has asked to recover from ratepayers as a result of money it spent on repairs following storms in 2011 and 2012.
Jepsen asked the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority in a legal brief to disallow at least $90 million in storm-related costs. Jepsen said some of the costs CL&P wants to recover are improper or unjustified, and that reducing the amount the company can get from ratepayers will serve as a penalty for the company's inadequate response to Tropical Storm Irene and the October 2011 nor'easter.
CL&P also is looking to recover costs associated with Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Jepsen filed his brief in a case before PURA that started with a filing that the utility company made in March of this year.
"Utility companies are, by law, allowed to recover reasonable expenses for major storm response," Jepsen said in a statement. "However, I believe CL&P's petition to PURA includes a number of expenses that should not be recovered from ratepayers. Further, I believe the evidence presented in these proceedings shows that, in a number of instances, CL&P did not take adequate steps to protect its ratepayers; CL&P should treat its ratepayers as a last, rather than a first, resort for its storm-related costs."
Tricia Taskey Modifica, a company spokeswoman, said CL&P officials disagree with the attorney general's claims.
"These were unprecedented storms that caused historic damage which was costly to repair," she said. "It's also important to remember that storm recovery costs have already been reduced for our customers by $40 million as a direct benefit of our merger agreement (with Boston-based NStar)."
PURA is expected to issued a tentative ruling in the case by the end of December.
Jepsen said PURA should also disallow 30 percent to 50 percent of the otherwise legitimately incurred costs from Tropical Storm Irene and the October snowstorm because of CL&P's inadequate efforts to restore power in the aftermath of the storms. Officials at the utility have identified $111.2 million in costs associated with Tropical Storm Irene and $175.1 million related to the October storm, which, using Jepsen's argument, would mean that $85 million to $140 million should not be allowed to be recovered from ratepayers.
Jepsen also said CL&P incorrectly accounted for $16.34 million in Accumulated Deferred Income Taxes which should be applied to offset the utility company's storm costs. The attorney general claims CL&P failed to hold AT&T responsible for its rightful share of storm-related tree work per an agreement between the two companies and that ratepayers should not be responsible for $9.2 million of work that the utility should have recovered from the telecommunications giant.
Jepsen also contends that CL&P mismanaged an insurance arrangement between Northeast Utilities' three affiliated electric utilities when it chose not to file a claim on behalf of the company's ratepayers. As a result, CL&P should return $5 million to ratepayers for that mismanagement, he said.
Call Luther Turmelle at 203-789-5706. Have questions, feedback or ideas about our news coverage? Connect directly with the editors of the New Haven Register at AskTheRegister.com.
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