Connecticut Light & Power President Jeffrey Butler said communications and coordination were certainly issues at times during the storm restoration efforts, but he welcomes a review and will comply with any requests for information from investigators.
Standing alone for the first time since the Oct. 29 storm left 831,000 CL&P customers across Connecticut without electricity, the company’s chief operating officer told reporters at a press conference Monday evening that he is confident the review will find his company will have aspects of the response that were done well and others that need improvement.
“Given the magnitude of this storm, as we go through the reviews I think it will show clearly that there were areas of strengths as well as a need to improve some weaknesses,” Butler said.
“One area of focus is the need to improve on our communications and coordination with individual towns. There were town officials who were upset and I understand their frustration, but there were also towns where the communication worked well. We need to look at both to determine what worked well and what didn’t.”
Butler said the company has had several discussions today and despite challenges, CL&P is maintaining its goal of completing storm restoration to 100 percent of CL&P customers by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday night.
The conference, held at the State Armory in Hartford, came less than an hour after Gov. Dannel Malloy criticized the company’s response at a separate press briefing outside his Capitol Office on Monday evening. Malloy told reporters that he was angered by the company’s inability to meet their own self-imposed deadlines and said the company “failed the state."
As of 7 p.m. Monday night, CL&P was reporting 37,000 outages still remaining across the state including continued problems in towns like Simsbury, Farmington and West Hartford. Simsbury had 39 percent without power, Farmington hat 42 percent out and West Hartford had a 27 percent outage rate.
Other towns with outages of greater than 20 percent Monday evening included Avon, Somers, Granby and Stafford. Seven others were still above 10 percent.
“CL&P failed Connecticut. They failed the state and they failed their customers,” Malloy said. The high standard we hold these companies to - and frankly I feel they’ve failed this standard - is the industry standard. We don’t even have to hold them to that; we only have to look at their own standard they set for themselves and they failed that.”
“There was a clear inability of the utility to communicate exactly who was on the ground, where they were on the ground and the circuits interrupted. It’s astounding to me and I’ve told them that time and time again,” he said.
Malloy said the utility giant’s customers fear this could happen again and with winter quickly approaching, that was why the state’s Attorney General chose to partner with . Witt Associates had representatives in the state Monday and said they would prepare the review, as well as any recommendations, by Dec. 1.
Charles Fisher, a representative of Witt Associates, said the review would include a full look the company’s emergency plans and response, including interviews with CL&P staff at all levels, a review of all communications and related documents and more.
“There are questions to be asked here,” Fisher said. “What was the company’s emergency restoration plan, was there a plan of something of this depth and did they execute their plans? We just arrived on ground today, to make any presumptions about recommendations will be premature.”
Butler said the state is doing exactly what it should and said CL&P has nothing to hide. The utility president said he would personally assist with the investigation in any way possible, including coordinating interviews and providing all requested data.
“I will personally participate and identify all the right people to be included in review,” he said.