Governor Dannel P. Malloy today joined Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS) Deputy Commissioner William P. Shea and West Hartford Mayor Scott Slifka for a ceremonial bill signing for Public Act 12-148, An Act Enhancing Emergency Preparedness and Response. The law will improve and augment the ability of the state, municipalities, and utility companies to better prepare for natural disasters and other emergencies.
"Over the past two years Connecticut residents have done a great job weathering record snow, a tropical storm, and a devastating October nor'easter that left the state without power," said Governor Malloy. "This law will hold utilities accountable, shore up our infrastructure, and improve communication between municipalities--critical for bolstering our recovery efforts. Preparing for bad weather is an ongoing effort, and it is important that we have the tools to support efficient and expedient recovery from whatever Mother Nature throws at us."
Public Act 12-148 will help standardize emergency preparedness for natural disasters and intense weather events by:
Establishing standards for the utility, telecommunication, and cable companies during emergency events and establishing penalties in the event the companies do not meet these standards;
Requiring utility companies, telecommunication companies, and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) Service Providers to submit emergency plans for restoring service;
Creating a microgrid pilot program to be administered by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection;
Studying the feasibility of requiring backup power for telecommunications towers and antennas;
Encouraging the coordination of underground infrastructure projects; and
Requiring the development of procedures to expedite the process of road-clearing following an emergency.
"This piece of legislation, along with the Governor's Emergency Planning and Preparedness Initiative, provides us with the foundation to make the state better prepared and more resilient for the next emergency or disaster," Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS) Deputy Commissioner William P. Shea said. "Under Governor Malloy's leadership, DEMHS continues to plan and prepare for the next inevitable emergency."
"Towns and cities are on the frontlines of storm recovery--we need to communicate with our residents, get power lines and infrastructure repaired quickly, make roads passable, and get assistance to our shelters," said Mayor Scott Slifka. "This legislation supports these goals and helps us streamline coordination with the state agencies involved in recovery efforts. I thank the Governor and the legislature for their work on this issue."
The legislation expands the scope of the state's civil preparedness and training requirements by requiring all private utility companies, including electric, gas, telephone, water, and cable TV companies, to comply with the state's comprehensive civil preparedness plan. It also requires all state departments, offices, and agencies to participate in civil preparedness planning, training, and exercises when directed to do so by the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) commissioner.
DESPP will hold two two-day statewide emergency preparedness drills, one July 28-29, and the other July 30-31, to assess communications, road clearing, and power restoration protocols.