Conway Selectboard objects to Eversource’s $7.2M compensation claim

Staff Writer
Published: 8/11/2021 4:30:19 PM

CONWAY — The Selectboard, on behalf of the town, wrote a letter objecting to an Eversource petition regarding more than $7 million in 2020 storm response compensation.

The company is requesting $7.2 million for work on six major storm responses last year, but the objection is focused on Eversource’s response to an unforecasted October 2020 storm that knocked out the majority of residents’ power. Eversource’s response system prepares resources based on forecasts from the National Weather Service, according to Conway’s objection.

The money comes from a storm fund the company established with the Department of Public Utilites (DPU) to offset costs of responses to large weather events, according to a 2017 DPU filing.

Conway Selectboard Chair Philip Kantor said the objection is a “futile gesture,” but the town wanted to take a stand. He added Eversource prepares these major storm compensation petitions for every town it services.

“Most of what we wrote is probably out of bounds. We thought it’d be worthwhile to take some time so they can’t say nobody objected,” Kantor said. “They shouldn’t be able to get this amount of money without someone objecting.”

Kantor said the objection is to make the point that Eversource’s response system must be adjusted to better prepare for more unforecasted storms because of climate change.

“A lot of these extreme weather events are not being forecasted. … It’s our way of saying ‘Please be better equipped to respond to unanticipated storms,’” Kantor said. “When significant damage that is not forecasted takes place, then it takes quite a while for them to bring their contractors up to speed and for the contractors to bring their employees up to speed.”

He said it boils down to Eversource doing “a better job” in preparing for emergencies. He added the company does its job well when it arrives on scene, but sometimes that response can take too long.

“The whole town went without power for 24 hours because their system was not equipped,” Kantor said. “Once they did show up, and they showed up with a lot of well-trained people and good leadership and they made short work of it.”

The objection also pins some blame for increased extreme weather on Eversource and the state Department of Public Utilities.

“The Conway Selectboard feels that Eversource, as well as the Department of Public Utilities, to the extent that they bear responsibility for the current global climate change crisis,” the objection reads, “should not be rewarded for lack of planning and adaptation to the world in which we live.”

A public hearing will be held by the Department of Public Utilities on Thursday at 10 a.m., according the department’s notice of filing.

Kantor said fellow Selectboard member Bob Armstrong reported there had not been “a single letter of opposition,” so the town wanted to make its stance clear, even if Eversource will receive the funds anyway.

“You do what you can,” Kantor said. “It’s a futile gesture, but look, they can’t say nobody objected.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.


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