Challenges including continued removal of road blockages and outages not associated with the rare October snowstorm have plagued the Connecticut Light & Power response, but CL&P President Jeffrey Butler said Sunday evening that he guarantees 100 percent of power would be restored by Wednesday.
In a press conference held at the State Armory in Hartford Sunday evening, the CL&P Chief Operating Officer apologized for not meeting the company’s “aggressive, self-imposed” deadline and said it will meet its final date.
“We still believe strongly that we will achieve 100 percent restoration by Wednesday evening,” Butler said. “(Setting the deadline) was right decision and we stand by that decision. People have been working hard for eight days now; we need to see this through and the focus remains on getting power restored as quickly as possible.”
Questioned by members of the media whether this was another aggressive deadline by the company, Butler became agitated and told reporters that this wasn’t an estimate.
“I am saying we will have 100 percent power restoration completed by Wednesday. Not by the end of week, but by Wednesday and I stand by that,” he said.
When power wasn’t restored to many places by last Wednesday, the company set the timeline for 99 percent restoration to be completed by Sunday evening. Despite strong progress in recent days, that they would not meet that goal for 31 municipalities served by the utility giant.
The company currently has almost 2,500 crews at work — 1,658 line crews and 824 tree crews — and Malloy said there are also 497 members of the National Guard at work helping to clear roads. CL&P said the staffing levels for storm restoration now exceed 9,000 workers.
Several areas, including the Farmington Valley region and Tolland area, continue to be plagued by large numbers of outages, however.
In the Farmington Valley region, West Hartford is 60 percent without power, Farmington remains at 53 percent without power, Avon has 36 percent of its residents without power, Canton has a 37 percent outage rate and Simsbury is at 50 percent without power, according to the CL&P map.
Along the northern section of the Interstate 84 corridor, Tolland is still at 39 percent without power, Ellington is at 30 percent, Vernon is at 27 percent, Somers is at 53 percent and Stafford is at 41 percent.
For more information on individual towns, click on the link provided to see the CL&P town by town totals.
Although Butler apologized to those without power Sunday night, he said the efforts have met some unexpected challenges including 6,800 new outages on Sunday that were not associated with the storm itself. As of 7 p.m., there were still almost 88,000 outages total statewide.
Butler attributed some of the challenges to a powerful winter storm that he said, “nobody has seen since the 1600s.”
“Again, we set very aggressive expectations to get done,” Butler said. “This was, as far as I’ve heard, the most powerful winter storm — although it was in October — that we have had in 500 years.”
Malloy had said earlier this week that , and that seems to be coming now in the form of several investigations into the company’s handling of the event.
The governor announced on Friday that the state has entered into a pro bono agreement with U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal announced Sunday he would be seeking a federal investigation into CL&P’s handling of the situation.
Butler, who cut the press conference short following the series of questions, said in the meantime the company is focused directly on finishing the recovery effort. He said the company should see a 96 percent restoration by tonight, a 98 percent restoration by Monday morning and a 99 percent restoration by Monday night. That number reflects outages across the state system, he said.
“We continue to push toward 99 percent across the state. We have not met our expectations and those set for all of you, but we feel we will be at 96 percent at midnight tonight for customers across system. We missed our goal and we are sorry for that.”