Connecticut governor highlights work on reducing prolonged power outages

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said in his State of the State Address on Jan. 9 that due to new procedures and laws, the odds of anyone having to needlessly suffer through prolonged power outages have diminished.

“In 2011, Connecticut was rocked by the worst winter in our history, two storms packing a one-two punch the likes of which we hadn’t seen in more than 25 years,” he said. “Tropical Storm Irene and the October Nor’easter revealed holes in our emergency response system that should have been addressed years, if not decades ago.”

The state put in place new procedures to better coordinate its emergency response infrastructure and commissioned a “Two Storm Panel” to investigate what went wrong and to determine what needed to be done to prevent unacceptable power and communication disruptions, he said.

“That panel led directly to the passage of tough new laws; laws that hold Connecticut utility companies accountable for how they respond to emergencies,” he said. “And we created a new energy micro-grid program to increase energy reliability in critical areas.”

Malloy also said: “We know we will again feel the brunt of powerful weather. But we can tell our citizens that their state is more prepared for future challenges, that their families will be safer when disaster strikes, and that the odds of anyone having to needlessly suffer through prolonged power outages have been greatly diminished.”

While Connecticut can never entirely prevent damage or power outages, he said the response was better and faster when Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012 than the 2011 storms. Sandy made landfall near Atlantic City, N.J., on Oct. 29, 2012, as a post-tropical cyclone, leaving millions without power in the East Coast.

The governor also noted that electric rates have dropped by 12% across the board, after having the highest electric rates in the continental United States. Connecticut consolidated its agencies to better coordinate energy functions and it strengthened programs promoting renewable power and energy efficiency, leveraging private capital to deliver renewable energy at a price lower than almost anywhere else in the U.S.

“We can’t stop now,” Malloy added. “The comprehensive energy strategy that my administration announced this past October shows us the path forward. Together, we will expand cheaper, cleaner and more reliable energy choices for consumers, enhancing efficiency programs for all communities, at the same time helping to create thousands of new jobs.”

As reported, in addition to its two major components – reducing natural gas prices and expanding efficiency programs – the plan considered raising Connecticut’s current 20% by 2020 renewable portfolio standard and expanding the resource mix of its power portfolio.

Based on a forecast annual electricity load for Connecticut in 2020 of 30,981 GWh, the draft strategy estimated it would take 1.09 GW of wind generating capacity and 2.72 GW of solar-PV generating capacity to meet a requirement of 6,196 GWh of Class I renewable generation.

The draft strategy provided an overview of the technical potential of renewable resources in Connecticut and highlighted Canadian hydroelectric resources as a low-carbon generation option, calling hydropower potential “enormous,” despite the lack of transmission to interconnect the regions.

According to the draft strategy, the Northern Pass transmission project, by Northeast Utilities (NYSE:NU) subsidiary The Northern Pass Transmission, is a potential near-term solution to accessing hydroelectric resources in Québec, but other new transmission projects would increase the portion of hydroelectricity for New England. The Northern Pass project would import 1,200 MW of Canadian hydropower, specifically from Hydro-Québec.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3152 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.