Governor Rell Calls CL&P Officials to Express Frustration with Pace of Storm Recovery
Published 6:45 pm, Thursday, March 18, 2010
Tells Utility Managers Power Needs to Be Restored for Everyone, Right Away; Governor to Send DOT Crews to Assist in Debris Clearance
Gov. M. Jodi Rell today called top managers of the Connecticut Light & Power Co. (CL&P) to express her continued frustration with the pace of the recovery from last weekend's severe storm, which caused nearly 100,000 customers to lose power.
By early evening today -- five days after the storm -- more than 7,700 CL&P customers remained without power. To speed the recovery, Rell is once again sending Department of Transportation crews to the area to help with debris clearance. At the Governor's request, the state Department of Public Utility Control has also asked United Illuminating Co. (UI) to loan some of its crews to CL&P to assist in restoring power to the remaining customers.
The storm contributed to the deaths of three people, downed thousands of trees and tree limbs, snapped hundreds of utility poles and caused widespread damage. Rell has asked the Department of Public Utility Control and the Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security to look into complaints that CL&P and UI were slow to respond to the storm Saturday night and Sunday. Municipal leaders, fire and police chiefs and emergency management officials told the Governor they had trouble reaching utility officials -- often getting voice mail or no answer at all -- and said that they saw relatively few utility crews on the job.
"I spoke today with CL&P President Jeff Butler, and told him that, frankly, it has already taken too long to restore power for everyone," Rell said. "People are angry and frustrated -- and I share their frustration. Families and businesses have been living in limbo for almost a week. This was clearly a major storm, and a proportionately massive response was in order. What I have seen to date does not meet that description.
"CL&P officials assured me that all primary distribution lines will be restored by today -- and that every crew will be staying on the job until that happens," Rell said. "Jeff Butler also told me that CL&P has installed 500 new utility poles since the storm. And he said that the utility has now placed one of its employees in every town's emergency operations center to make sure there are no more communications breakdowns.
"These are all steps in the right direction," Rell said. "But the bottom line is getting the number of customers without power down to `zero.' I will not be satisfied until that is accomplished. Because one major problem seems to be clearing debris, I have ordered the Department of Transportation to send trucks and crews into the hardest-hit area on Friday to assist communities that need it with the removal of trees, tree limbs and other storm debris. I am committed to making sure the residents and businesses of Connecticut get through this period and back on their feet."