Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

April 29, 2024

Former Waterbury mayor enters private sector with consulting gig at Eversource

HBJ PHOTO | MICHAEL PUFFER Waterbury Mayor Neil M. O'Leary in front of the Anamet factory.

Eversource Energy has enlisted former Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary to join its arsenal during an ongoing high-stakes battle with its regulator over cost recovery.

O’Leary, who did not seek reelection to a fifth term as Waterbury’s mayor last year, reached an agreement with Eversource in March to work as a part-time community engagement consultant.

O’Leary, who has more than 40 years of experience in leadership roles in police and government agencies, is working in the private sector for the first time.

O’Leary said he has formed an LLC and is providing consulting services for several businesses.

His highest-profile client may be Eversource. In the new gig, O’Leary travels around the state spreading good cheer about the energy company with municipal leaders and legislators.

He said he reminds them that Eversource doesn’t produce electricity; it distributes electricity – and many of its costs depend on outside factors. He also reinforces Eversource’s commitment to the communities it serves, from sponsoring events to philanthropy. Eversource is the largest property taxpayer in many towns.

O’Leary, a Democrat, served as mayor of Waterbury for 12 consecutive years, making him the longest-serving mayor of the Brass City. 

Before his political run, O’Leary worked for Waterbury Police Department, serving as its police chief from 2004 to 2009. He was also the police chief in Wolcott for two years and served on the Waterbury Board of Education.

In an interview Friday, O’Leary said working for Eversource brings him back to his roots as a police officer, as he would often work overtime for Eversource – then known by a different name – protecting job sites. 

As mayor, he recently worked with Eversource to redevelop Waterbury’s Freight Street.

He expects his municipal leadership experience to come in handy more often than his police training in the new role. He said he’ll harness connections he formed as mayor and during his tenure as chairman of the board at the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.

“I think it's mostly like a customer service role, which is kind of what I did as mayor,” O’Leary said. “The mayor delivers customer service to their constituents.”

Eversource and the state’s other power utility, United Illuminating (UI), have been engaged in a battle with the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority for more than a year. PURA approves the utilities’ annual revenue requirements and sets their rates.

Two weeks ago, Eversource announced that it would suspend its new electric vehicle charging rebates due to “uncertain regulatory treatment” in Connecticut.

According to the company, recent regulatory decisions “call into question the stability of the state’s support for EV funding.”

Eversource has said PURA “made it clear the agency does not see it as necessary to support state policy with its ratemaking policies.”

Eversource will stop processing applications for EV charging station funding incentives starting May 22.

Meanwhile, UI has appealed PURA’s August 2023 decision to reduce its proposed rate increase. The case is pending in the state’s Appellate Court.

Sign up for Enews


Order a PDF