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Paying for recycling costs, and Eversource’s efforts to do better

GOSHEN — Katie Dykes, the commissioner of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), told the Northwest Hills Council of Governments (COG) on Thursday, Feb. 11, that she expects the state Legislature to take action in the current session on requiring manufacturers of gas cylinders and tires to assume the costs of disposal.

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) arrangements already exist for disposal of mattresses, paint and electronics, she said.

Adding tires and gas cylinders to the list is “do-able” in this session, she added.

Dykes laid out a lengthy list of DEEP priorities, with a concentration on waste management.

She also mentioned an updated bottle bill, which would increase the deposit on bottles and cans, and a statewide law requiring unit-based pricing (aka Pay As You Throw) at transfer stations.

On the latter, Dykes acknowledged that unit-based pricing is controversial and suggested a statewide mandate would provide some political cover for municipal officials. She also said she didn’t expect the Legislature to move on the issue in this session.

Asked about state parks and personnel for the coming summer, Dykes said DEEP was only able to fill about 80% of its seasonal jobs last year. This coincided with a 50% increase in usage at state parks and forests.

She asked the assembled first selectmen, mayors and town managers for help in getting the word out that DEEP is hiring now, and provided a handy link: https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/Human-Resources/Seasonal/Seasonal-Employment.

Eversource is making an effort 

Jack Arsego, head of community relations for Eversource, told the COG members that the utility currently has a temporary feature on its website that allows towns to report outages. He said the feature is faster than reporting by phone.

He said the temporary system proved useful during the Feb.1 snowstorm.

In the works is a new “municipal portal” website that will be two way, include an improved outage map and provide more information faster to towns during storms.

Eversource faced considerable criticism for its response to last summer’s Tropical Storm Isaias. Prominent among the complaints were the difficulties in getting reliable information from Eversource.

To address this, Arsego said Eversource is beefing up its monthly meetings with towns and will be updating its lists of contacts and critical facilities.

The COG is made up of the first selectmen from 21 area towns.

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