Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced that the first of four public hearings to be held as part of the investigation she ordered into the actions of the state's two largest electric utilities during and after the March 13-14 storm is scheduled for April 7 at the New Canaan Town Hall.

The first public session will be in the auditorium at the Town Hall, 77 Main Street, and will begin at 6:30 p.m. Additional hearings will be held in:

* Westport: April 12, Westport Town Hall, 110 Myrtle Avenue, 6:30 p.m.

* Fairfield: April 14, Fairfield Town Hall, 725 Old Post Road, 6:30 p.m.

* Greenwich: April 15, Greenwich Town Hall, 101 Field Point Road, 6:30 p.m.

Earlier this month, Rell directed the Department of Public Utility Control and the Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security to conduct a joint investigation into complaints about the actions of Connecticut Light & Power Co. (CL&P) and United Illuminating Co. (UI). The severe storm brought high winds and heavy rains that contributed to the deaths of three people, downed thousands of trees and tree limbs, snapped hundreds of utility poles and left nearly 100,000 Connecticut homes and businesses without power.

Tens of thousands of customers were without power for three days or more and some customers were without power for as long as six days. During the storm, municipal officials and emergency officials complained they could not reach CL&P or UI, getting only voice mail or no answer at all. They also complained that initial response to the widespread power outages was slow.

"The first phase of this investigation -- numerous questions and requests for detailed information from the utilities -- is already under way, but I want the concerns and experiences of ratepayers to be a major factor in this review as well," Rell said. "I have asked the state agencies to make sure they hear not only from the tens of thousands of customers who were without power for days at a time but also from the town leaders and emergency officials who could not reach anyone at the utilities.

"People who cannot make it to the public meetings have additional ways to offer comments," Rell said. "Ratepayers can call the agency's Consumer Representative hot line at 800-382-4586 or fill out a comment form on the DPUC's Web site at www.ct.gov/DPUC. All of the public comments will become a part of the formal record for this case."