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Brumback to CL&P: 'The Time for One or Two Crews is Over'

With recovery and assessment complete, the town is putting pressure on CL&P to get power restored as quickly as possible. Officials anticipate that with the promised response, "thousands" could see their power come back on Thursday.

Garry Brumback said the efforts of the dedicated Connecticut Light & Power crew have been instrumental in addressing a continued list of problems with downed wires and road closures throughout the community.

The company’s effort on other levels, including communication, has been less than stellar.

Brumback had a conference with CL&P administrators Wednesday and sent a loud and clear message to the company that it must improve communications with the town and must commit more resources toward helping restore power to thousands of customers who have been left in the dark for days.

“We had candid and strong conversations with CL&P today,” Brumback said. “We made it clear that we have been disappointed in their communications…we told them the time for sending one or two crews into Southington is over. The recovery piece is complete and it’s time for them to focus on restoration.”

The largest utility company in the state has come under direct scrutiny from both state and local officials in recent days for failing to meet their promises in terms of power restoration after a rare October snowstorm left more than 830,000 without electricity.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said immediately following the storm that the damage left by the heavy snow and winds was among one of the worst natural disasters in state history.

But for local residents and officials who have seen little progress from CL&P prior to Wednesday, waiting for life to return to normal has worn on their patience. The frustration has led to direct concerns from many of the state’s local politicians.

In a meeting Tuesday night, and demanded further action from the utility giant, which responded to his concerns by promising they would have six crews assigned to Meriden on Wednesday.

“I want 30 crews here tomorrow, not six. I want 30,” Donovan told reporters after the closed-door meeting Tuesday night.

The criticism has put CL&P President and Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Butler on the defensive. Butler said Wednesday morning that his company was open in saying that it knew some would be without power for more than a week and has done everything it can to get power back to the state as quickly as possible.

Some may also take his comments as a blame shift for the response, however.

“We did plan for long-term outages. I did not expect it to be anywhere close to where almost a million of our discrete customers lost their power. Based on all the forecasts I saw and the snow that accumulated, I did not expect that,” Butler said.

Not only has the indirect communication led to criticism, but Butler has also been questioned for “empty promises” that the company has failed to meet.

that most towns would know by Tuesday morning when power would be restored and added that additional crews were on their way from places including “Tennessee and Missouri.” He estimated at that time that as many as 1,000 crews could be on the ground by Tuesday morning.

That didn’t happen.

“We’ve been disappointed by the amount of help we’ve actually received from outside the state,” Malloy told the press Wednesday. "We’ve been disappointed by the execution of promises that had been made (regarding restoration).”

Malloy added Wednesday that it was time to put pressure on CL&P to follow through with its responsibilities and get the job done.

Although the efforts have been disappointing so far, Brumback said his conversation and the pressure from the state has helped lead to a change in town – and that is very good news for local residents. There were 14 crews working directly on restoration efforts Wednesday and several additional crews were assigned to continue work overnight.

The efforts helped reduce the number of outages in Southington by more than 1,500 customers during the day Wednesday, but, as of 11 p.m., the town was back to 8,042 outages, according to CL&P outage maps. Across the state, 472,000 customers were still without power.

Brumback said much of the work Wednesday was preparation, however, and was hopeful that with most of the roads cleared, “thousands” could see their lights come back on Thursday.

“We have turned the corner, but it is still going to take some time,” Brumback said. “Turning the power back on is not as easy as just flipping a switch. We are still optimistic that several thousand customers will be turned back on tomorrow.”

John Leary November 03, 2011 at 11:03 AM
Thank you Mr. Brumback for your diligent and steadfast leadership on behalf of Southington and our neighbors most affected with power outages. You remain right in the middle, communicating with residents, collaborating with your town departments, and keeping the pressure on CL&P. You along with our town employees and countless volunteers are doing an excellent job. P.S I hope you get your power back soon.
Lynn Michaud November 03, 2011 at 11:14 AM
I guess CL&P should pay "their" bills!
Mark E. Malasics November 03, 2011 at 12:41 PM
It's pretty easy for all the arm-chair electricians and utility workers to sit back and complain about not getting their power back according to their personal time table. Nobody grasps the scope of the outages and the damage that must be cleared first before restoration can begin. People are so pompous and arrogant as to insist that they are special and their power should come before everyone else. It's a fact, and probably a sad one to those snobs, that the repairs that bring the most amount of customers back online will get done first. As far as other states offering help, on my drive back to town from Florida on Monday, we saw convoys of utility trucks from Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia along the way. But then again, for some cry-babies, nothing is ever enough. Yes, of all the 800,000+ customers without power, you of course should come first.
Patrick Holland November 03, 2011 at 01:27 PM
While putting pressure on cl
Bob Upson November 03, 2011 at 04:34 PM
Sad but true... This is just another example of the culture of entitlement. If people are that averse to being without power, then it's their responsibility to provide their own back-up sources. It's not CL&P's fault that there was a massive snowfall in October and it's absurd to expect them to complete repairs any faster than they are. Preparedness starts at home -- one family at a time.
Plutarch November 03, 2011 at 05:20 PM
Good thing the huge powerful corporation that has a near-monopoly on the state has people commenting on Patch to defend it...not sure they could survive the criticism otherwise.

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