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HomeNewsNeedleman: Utilities Update, Upcoming Road Work Projects, and Gillette Castle Refurbishment Complete

Needleman: Utilities Update, Upcoming Road Work Projects, and Gillette Castle Refurbishment Complete

By Norm Needleman, State Senator


(September 24, 2021) According to the Connecticut Examiner, state regulators will likely require Eversource to drop its electricity rates starting in November. A current draft decision would cut Eversource’s allowed return on equity from 9.25% to 8.8%, with a further 0.9% cut assessed as a penalty for the company’s response to Tropical Storm Isaias reducing that to a total of 7.9%. This would likely be reflected in a decrease in customers’ bills in future months. This move came as a direct result of legislators’ actions in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Isaias, which left widespread damage and nearly half of Connecticut without power in August 2020. I will share further updates as they arise.

Now, please take a couple of minutes to read some local and state developments.

Seeking Aid After Utility Shutoffs End

As pandemic protections against utility shutoffs have ended as of September 15, resources and help remain available for individuals who are still seeking aid. If you or someone you know are struggling to pay your electric, water or utility bills, help is available in the following ways:

  • Operation Fuel offers emergency assistance with applications available online. By visiting www.operationfuel.org/gethelp, you can apply, chat live with specialists trained to help, and find Fuel Banks near you.
  • Payment plans are available for heat and electricity. After November 1, ask about the Below Budget Worksheet Program or Matching Payment program. Call your providers – CT Natural Gas: 860-524-8361; Southern CT Gas 800-659-8299; Eversource New Start 860-286-2000; United Illuminating MaPP 800-722-5584
  • Hardship or Winter Protection status protects service through May 2022. Call your utility company or Operation Fuel and ask to be coded “Hardship” or “Winter.” United Illuminating: 800-722-5584; Eversource: 800-286-2828; Connecticut Natural Gas: 860-727-3000; Southern Connecticut Gas: 800-659-8299; Operation Fuel: 860-243-2345
  • Other help can be gained through UniteCT, calling 211 for energy assistance or calling the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority at 800-382-4586.

Upcoming Road Work

Milling and Resurfacing on Route 81 In Haddam

The Department of Transportation will perform a milling and resurfacing project on Route 81 in Haddam from October 1 through October 26 under current scheduling. The project involves milling and resurfacing a 5.7-mile segment of Route 81 in Haddam, with milling scheduled for Friday, October 1 through Friday, October 15, followed by resurfacing from Sunday, October 17 to Tuesday, October 26. Motorists should expect lane closures from the Haddam/Killingworth town line to Route 154 in Haddam, with traffic control and signs used to guide motorists. Work will be performed from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Motorists should be aware weather delays or other changes may extend or change the project schedule and are reminded to remain alert and drive carefully around road work.

Plans to Rehabilitate Route 2

The Department of Transportation is developing plans to rehabilitate concrete pavement and improve safety conditions on Route 2 in Colchester, seeking to restore Route 2 to an acceptable condition consistent with pavement guidelines. The existing pavement dates back as far as 1956 and is declining in quality, requiring rehabilitation to extend its pavement life. The project will also allow for guiderails, bridge rails and other safety conditions needing upgrades to be addressed. Presently, it is expected that work will continue through early 2024 for planning, with construction expected to start in spring 2024. Anyone with concerns or questions about the planning and development process is asked to call 860-594-3274 or to email Matthew.Vail@ct.gov.

Local and Regional Updates

Gillette Castle Refurbishment Complete, Under Budget

The ceiling and roof of the portico over the drive at Gillette Castle State Park’s castle have successfully been refurbished, according to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. The work began in May to improve upon deteriorating conditions including loose stones and deteriorating mortar. When demolition began, it was discovered columns holding up the portico were in much better condition than expected, which allowed for the project to come in under-budget, valued at $375,000.

There will be another phase of work at the site in 2022 to improve the castle’s veranda and terrace.

UPLEVEL Business Virtual Summit October 18-29 For Middlesex County

The MEWS+ and The Hive Chester, sponsors of the UPLEVEL Summit ’21, are seeking speakers to apply and present during the virtual summit to be held October 18-29. The summit, which supports home-based businesses, entrepreneurs and the start-up community, supports members of those groups seeking to gain skills and build the networks required for success. Applications will be based on four tracks, including business and entrepreneurship, technology and legal considerations, productivity, process and planning and mindfulness, health and wellness. Applications will be taken through Friday, September 24 at this link.

How To Get An Absentee Ballot For 2021 Elections

If you are interested in voting by absentee ballot in the 2021 election, scheduled for November 2, simply visit your Town Clerk’s office to complete and sign an application, submitting it there. You can also download and fill out an absentee ballot application online at this link, then mail it to your Town Clerk’s office or drop it off at a drop-box located outside your Town Hall. By following either of these steps, you will receive an absentee ballot for the 2021 election in the mail, which you can return by mail or in the drop-box in your town.

Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 to October 15, highlighting and recognizing the incredible work done by Hispanic-American members of our communities every day. The achievements and contributions of Hispanic-Americans have not only made our country a better place to live, but have inspired generations to accomplish their dreams. To commemorate this month, please visit the Library of Congress website to learn more and potentially participate in virtual events running through mid-October.


Sharon Challenger
Sharon Challenger
I am a professional Scenic Artist and have also worked as a Systems Analyst and Senior Programmer Analyst for the Travelers and Yale University. Education: Post University, Wesleyan University and Yale University School of Drama.

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