Potential Problems with Take Back Our Grid in Connecticut
In looking at the Take Back Our Grid policies, the working men and women of the IBEW in Connecticut see a number of potential problems. We feel the rash actions of state legislators, spurred on by PURA, have enacted a series of policies with costly, or worse, potentially deadly problems.
These policies were developed by PURA with no discussion with the IBEW men and women who are first responders and frontline workers during power outages. The result is a series of policies that will lead to:
- Hundreds of Connecticut first responders (IBEW Linemen) being put in unnecessarily dangerous work environments
- A reduction in the amount of work performed by Connecticut residents on future energy infrastructure projects
- Reduced taxes paid by the state’s #1 tax-paying entity, passing further tax burden onto state residents
- A weakened electrical grid with less revenue for real improvements
- A work environment that could potentially severely injure or kill Connecticut residents
watch the video:
Let’s look at some of the problems developed by
Marissa Gillette and PURA in more detail:
Encouraging Inferior Work Standards
PURA wants to “invite” third parties to bid on construction of non-wire alternative projects to replace traditional distribution projects.
Under this new system, outside project developers are not required to use union labor or conduct competitive bidding. PURA’s current policy language encourages out-of-state competitors to underbid and use undertrained, out-of-state workers on Connecticut projects.
Having various third-party, non-union crews building projects that tap into the existing system creates a litany of problems. We’ve seen it happen in other markets around the United States, and we don’t want to see the same mistakes made in Connecticut.
Safety is once again a major concern. Lesser skilled workers, who haven’t received training at the same level as our members, will come into the state to do work and then leave the state. And when their work breaks, or worse, they’re gone.
Connecticut Loses Jobs and Tax Revenues
By letting out-of-state third parties complete work to replace traditional distribution, control and ownership of these projects is stripped from electrical utilities like Eversource.
This effectively places Connecticut IBEW members out of work, and eliminates work hours and the local taxes our union workforce regularly pays in our home state.
These actions will strip us of jobs in our own state.
Since this type of work will include various alternative projects, the costs will be lower, impairing competitiveness of any bid by Eversource (who is committed to using union labor) to complete the work. That means even less work for Connecticut electrical workers.
Eliminating work by Eversource also eliminates tax revenue for Connecticut as the utility is the state’s largest tax payer.
We believe PURA’s framework is an overreach that will jeopardize both worker safety and grid security. State lawmakers need to do their due diligence and ensure their policy actions don’t place our members in danger, strip Connecticut electrical workers of jobs or reduce tax revenue collected by the state.
96-Hour Restoration Standard Ignores Safety Protocols
Believe us, we’re Connecticut electrical ratepayers too. When power is out due to a storm, we want the power back on as much as you do. It’s also our homes, our families and our friends who are suffering during an outage.
Remember, restoring power is dangerous. Downed high voltage lines pose a major danger to the men and women tasked with restoring them to working condition, especially when hazardous weather conditions persist.
Now PURA and State Legislators have passed power restoration regulations around an arbitrary 96-hour deadline. Our people now face a ticking clock when trying to restore power, which is contrary to our training to put safety first, for themselves and any residents involved. We believe you shouldn’t put a deadline on safety.
PURA has pledged a waiver to help protect our line workers or the public when working under these conditions, but they have shown us no concrete evidence of how they plan to do this, or addressed this pledge with us directly. It’s a false claim that at best would only take effect AFTER a tragic injury or loss of life.
There already exists a Connecticut Emergency Response Plan (ERP), which contains carefully researched and structured standards for power restoration based on the severity and magnitude of various storms. Filed every two years with PURA, these standards contain expected response times for service outages at varying levels; not all weather events are the same.
Why has PURA chosen to ignore these benchmarks in favor of a single, arbitrary deadline placed on the shoulders of IBEW Linemen? It is very possible Connecticut residents could be severely hurt or killed as a direct result of this ill-advised and rushed action.
The IBEW CT respectfully asks of our elected officials: Don’t risk our lives (or safety) for your political gain.