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Electricity rebates available

HARTFORD — Under pressure from consumers and state officials, Northeast Utilities has created a $30 million fund to institute a rebate program for Connecticut Light & Power customers who were without electricity for more than a week after Winter Storm Alfred on Oct. 29. Starting Dec. 7, the utility announced last week, customers will be able to call 888-566-9257 or visit CL&P’s website (www.cl-p.com) to apply for at least $100 and as much as $200 in credit for loss of power during the week of Oct. 29 to Nov. 5, when thousands of customers in Northwest Connecticut and other areas of the state were without power for seven days or more. Any CL&P customers who were still without power at noon on Nov. 5 will be eligible to apply for the rebate. The rebate program is expected to cost Northeast Utilities, CL&P’s parent company $30 million. The company’s initial offer of $10 million was criticized by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and state legislators as inadequate, and Northeast Utilities President Charles Shivery said in a statement this week that he agreed. “As we heard from our customers and had discussions with Gov. Malloy and his staff, it became clear that the original sum we proposed, $10 million, was insufficient,” Shivery said in a Nov. 29 statement. “While this storm was unprecedented, we set very high expectations for the performance of Connecticut Light and Power. Clearly, we did not meet a number of those expectations. Today’s announcement demonstrates our sincere desire to keep faith with our CL&P customers by assisting those who were without power the longest, as well as organizations that provide food and warmth to those most in need.”CL&P will donate as much as $5 million to the Connecticut Food Bank, Foodshare and Operation Fuel. Each organization will initially receive $1 million with additional funds determined at the close of the fund in January. “The unprecedented storm created substantial hardships for many people, despite the extraordinary efforts of our employees and contractors,” Shivery said. “Having the confidence of our customers is important to us and, in addition to establishing this fund, we have taken a series of steps to improve performance at CL&P.”Complaints from consumers, lawmakers and the governor’s office over CL&P’s response to Winter Storm Alfred resulted in the resignation of the company’s president and CEO Jeffrey Butler last month, along with a state investigation into the statewide response to the massive power outage, which affected 831,000 of the company’s 1.2 million customers. In the worst-hit areas of the state, including areas of Northwest Connecticut, it took 13 days to restore power to all customers.The fund, which will be administered by the company, opens for applications Wednesday, Dec. 7, and CL&P announced it would begin contacting qualified residential customers to inform them of their eligibility to apply for the credit. Also at that time, qualified customers can apply at www.cl-p.com or by calling 888-566-9257. All applications must be received by 5 p.m. on Jan. 31, 2012. Credits will begin to be applied to the customer’s February billing statement. No release of legal claims is required to receive compensation.Customers who filed information through 211 for claims associated with the storm after the initial fund was announced will receive a credit on their bill without further application required if they are eligible.The widespread damage caused by Winter Storm Alfred and the response by CL&P became the subject of an independent investigation, under direction of Gov. Malloy’s office, by Witt Associates, which released a report Dec. 2 identifying preparedness and communications issues at CL&P. Malloy also created a Two Storm Panel to address the response to the storm.“This was an unprecedented storm that caused real hardship for many of our residents,” Malloy said. “But if something good came out of it, it’s that it’s giving us the chance to put in place an unprecedented level of response should it be necessary in the future. Thanks to Witt Associates, we have a report that will help our public utilities and state government understand what went wrong, why it went wrong, and how to fix it. And this is just the first step – what we need to do in the short term to get ready for the winter ahead. I am still looking forward to the long term plan the Two Storm Panel will ultimately produce, as well as to a more detailed follow-up report from an outside consultant.”

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