CT PURA Letter to Industry
Directed to members of the Electric, Gas, Water and Telecommunications Industries
Dear Valued Members of the Electric, Gas, Water, and Telecommunications Industries:
We know it is a difficult, unprecedented time, not just for our industries, but for our communities and our families as well. On behalf of the commissioners and staff of the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA), we want to assure our regulated entities, our stakeholders, and all ratepayers that we remain wholly dedicated to our core mission of ensuring the public’s right to safe, adequate, and reliable utility service at reasonable rates. We are committed to exercising our authority in a thoughtful and decisive manner, and we continue to evaluate ways in which we can provide stability, certainty, and assistance in the challenging times that remain ahead.
So, how have we shown our commitment? Thus far, we’ve taken actions both internally and externally, operationally and programmatically – and, we’re striving for regular and transparent communications. Internal to PURA, we have closed our physical offices and enabled our staff to telework so that we can do our part in promoting the Governor’s “Stay Safe, Stay Home” initiative. Operationally, we have suspended the paper filing requirement and are promoting the use of remote notarization. We have also embraced technology platforms that will allow us to continue to conduct hearings, conferences, and meetings remotely, so that our docketed matters do not experience any undue delays.
Programmatically, we have been busy too – both with our “regular” regulatory duties and with respect to COVID-19.
- Yesterday we awarded $7 million in funding to 96 educational entities and public access studies through our PEGPETIA program, which can be used to scale up distance learning and remote business functions in our communities.
- Less than a week after the public health emergency was declared by the Governor, we acted to place an immediate moratorium on electric, gas and water utility service terminations for residential customers, and five days later we acted to extend the shutoff moratorium to nonresidential customers as well.
- We continue to investigate opportunities to provide expanded payment plan options and arrearage forgiveness programs for all customers, and are on track to act on new suggestions by the end of April.
- We have also expanded the scope of our ongoing energy affordability investigation to include commercial and industrial customers as well, and we’re actively scheduling listening sessions across the state to hear directly from impacted businesses.
- PURA’s landmark framework for achieving an Equitable Modern Grid continues to progress on schedule, with draft request for proposals released in all six Equitable Modern Grid investigations on March 31.
We are also actively engaged in reviewing upcoming deadlines for dockets and programs, to ensure that those deadlines still make sense in light of the current crisis. Yesterday we took action to extend the bid deadline for two crucial clean energy programs that are poised to deliver both economic and environmental benefits to the state. While PURA is not interested in waiving regulatory requirements or deadlines en masse – there is still a job to be done and delivering safe and reliable utility service must be paramount – we are certainly mindful of these unprecedented times and are committed to taking common sense action.
With all that we have done since the public health emergency unfolded, we recognize that our work is far from done. We know that many households and businesses are struggling, and that our underserved communities are even more stretched. In the weeks that follow we are working to improve upon and to also make the existing resources more accessible to those who need help most with their utility bills. Look for more information on these efforts in the coming days.
Lastly, a sincere thank you for all of your contributions to the electric, gas, water, and telecommunications industries in Connecticut. We commend you, as well as our sister agencies – The Office of Consumer Counsel, the Office of the Attorney General, the Connecticut Green Bank, the Department of Economic and Community Development, and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection – for your hard work. We commend our colleagues at the utilities for their proactive engagement in the communities, and for the wonderful webinars and other resources they have provided to clean energy contractors in the state, alongside the Connecticut Green Bank, DECD, and DEEP.
We are all in this together. Wishing you and your loved ones a safe and healthy journey.
Marissa P. Gillett, Chairman
John W. Betkoski, III, Vice-Chairman
Michael A. Caron, Commissioner