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CT House overwhelmingly passes bill that would force utilities to compensate customers left in dark

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Reflecting the lasting anger directed towards Eversource following its widely criticized performance after Tropical Storm Isaias, the state House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a performance-based rate-making bill for all electric utilities by a 136-4 margin.

Also known as the “Take Back Our Grid” bill, House Bill 7006 mandates that electric utilities – including Eversource and United Illuminating — pay a maximum of $250 to each residential customer for spoiled food and medication due to an outage that lasts more than four days from an emergency.

A $25 per day credit would also be given to residential customers suffering an outage that lasts more than four days.

Isaias, which knocked out an estimated 800,000 customers around the state in early August, would have cost the utilities about $19 million, according to lawmakers.

The four representatives voting against the measure are all Republicans, none of whom represent Fairfield County.

The House also voted 143-0 to restructure the Connecticut Property Transfer Act, which was adopted in 1985 to encourage clean-up of environmentally challenged properties. There are reportedly some 4,200 properties – some of them long-vacant commercial buildings — now in process that could be sold if restrictions are eased.

The revised legislation requires the state to provide regulations that would require such property owners to clean up the spills and other forms of pollution of which they are aware. Such changes reportedly could create as many 27,000 jobs.

In addition, the House approved a measure designed to streamline how local officials process absentee ballots by a 138-5 margin. As many as 66% of eligible Connecticut citizens are expected to vote by absentee ballot in the Nov. 3 election.

Under the bill, qualified municipal officials will be given the option of opening the outer envelope of the absentee ballots and verifying the voter signed the inner envelope, beginning at 5 p.m. on Oct. 30. The inner envelope, which contains the ballot, may not be opened.

The five dissenting votes were again cast by Republicans, none of whom represent Fairfield County.

The bills now go to the state Senate, which could vote upon them as early as today.

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