Archive | August, 2020

Gov. Lamont Orders Investigation into Storm Isaias Outages

By Anthony Zepperi, Staff Writer

HARTFORD – Gov. Ned Lamont has requested that the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority conduct a thorough investigation of the state’s public utility companies, including Eversource and United Illuminating, amid widespread outages caused by Tropical Storm Isaias that have left hundreds of thousands of customers without power.

The storm, which ripped through many parts of Connecticut Tuesday, some hit harder than others, have kept people without power for days now, calling into question the response by various light and power companies, including Eversource.

Lamont said that the companies’ response to the storm was inadequate and wants to know why there has been a slow response. As of Thursday, there are more than 450,000 Connecticut customers without power.  

“Several years ago, Connecticut experienced large scale outages that took days to recover from, and we were told that the utilities were improving their resources so that they can be prepared for the next time Mother Nature inevitably hits again,” Lamont said. “I don’t see much progress made for all the investments we made in terms of hardening, strengthening and modernizing our grid.”

According to Lamont, he wants to know what specific steps the companies took in the lead up to Tropical Storm Isaias, which had been forecasted to impact Connecticut several days prior to making impact and remained on track as meteorologists predicted.

PURA is the office responsible for regulating the rates and services of Connecticut’s electricity, natural gas, water and telecommunication companies and is the franchising authority for the state’s cable television companies.

Eversource Vice President Electric Operations, Mike Hayhurst, said that as people are staying home during COVID-19, being without power can be cumbersome. 

“We recognize how hard it is to be without electricity, especially during the pandemic, when many people are working remotely,” Hayhurst said.

Eversource estimates power to be restored to most customers by late Tuesday night.

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Gov. Lamont Anounces Relief Funds for School Opening

By Anthony Zepperi, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Gov. Ned Lamont on Thursday announced that the State of Connecticut is allocating an additional $160 million in funding for school districts to safely reopen.

These relief funds add to the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) of $15 million and $111 million from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Funds which has brought total funding to 266 million for more than 160 school districts.

Gov. Lamont said that the funding is essential for ensuring schools safely re-open for students.

“These grants are an essential component to providing the best possible educational opportunities during this uncertain time,” Lamont said, in a press conference.

Lamont also said that these new funds will help needy families who are in struggling neighborhoods.

“Through this program, we are going to be able to offer devices, platforms, and internet connectivity to help with distance learning in lower income areas for students just beginning their education through college and graduate school,” Lamont said. “It also helps to increase access to higher education by expanding scholarship opportunities, and help those seeking vocational training to launch a new career.”

An issuance of Coronavirus relief funds that Connecticut received under the CARES Act will be reserved to assist districts with necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency, between March 1, 2020 and December 30, 2020.

The Connecticut State Department of Education will provide ongoing technical assistance to districts as it pertains to eligible activities and spending under the Coronavirus Relief Fund, which include personal protective equipment such as masks as well as laptops and more staff for distant learning opportunities. 

Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona said that it is paramount that students have access to this technology. 

“By strategically aligning our federal and state resources, the state will maximize its efforts to prioritize equitable access to technology and high-quality curriculum, accelerate learning opportunities, and provide for the social and emotional well-being of students, teachers and staff,” Cardona said. “We will continue to aggressively pursue funding sources to help districts fill funding gaps and meet the anticipated and unknown costs of educating students over the next year.”

As of Aug. 8, 2020, there have been 50,320 positive cases of the virus with 4,441 deaths in Connecticut, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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