New Fairfield First Selectman Pat Del Monaco is describing the Eversource response to this month's Tropical Storm as uncoordinated, wasteful and poorly executed. Danbury is considering a lawsuit against Eversource. Del Monaco suggested to her fellow Selectmen they explore the idea of New Fairfield taking its own legal action or joining action with other municipalities.
Selectmen Kim Hanson and Khris Hall were leery of the cost of a lawsuit and how successful a lawsuit would be for recouping money for ratepayers. They were leaning more toward filing a complaint with the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority.
Del Monaco said she shares the anger and the frustration of residents, many of whom went days or more than a week without power. She said it's not just a matter of being without power, it's people who were put in jeopardy and who had very real financial losses. She says residents suffered a loss of food and medicine and had to use gasoline for generators for an amount of time that she called unreasonable.
Del Monaco says a big problem with the storm response by Eversource was a lack of make-safe crews, which communicate with public works and Eversource about when it’s safe to cut trees out of wires. But overall, she says the response was defined by a lack of communication that started when the Eversource outage reporting system crashed, making it difficult for Eversource or the municipality to even know where all of the outages were.
Del Monaco says there were 30 line crews in the center of town for 48 hours, not doing anything. She called that an incredible waste of resources noting that it's also not an efficient use of resources. She also highlighted an issue where New Fairfield made recommendations to Eversource for restoration priorities, but they were ignored. One priority was a tree hanging over Route 37. They tried barricading the road, having police and public works there, but drivers still continued to drive under the tree. Once a crew was sent, she says they insisted on clearing Route 39.