Expressing frustration with the length of time it’s taking to get out-of-state crews to Connecticut to help turn the power back on, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the head of Connecticut’s largest utility is still telling him behind closed doors that power will be restored to 99 percent of its customers by Sunday.
“CL&P is sticking to their Sunday deadline,” Malloy said. “You could argue that that’s a day longer than they had originally expected. I certainly understand the reticence to believe that. However, that’s what they continue to tell us both privately and publicly. I guess it’s their reputation on the line.”
Malloy assured reporters that he and the state’s Congressional delegation had applied pressure to the problem of getting additional assets to the state of Connecticut. They even brought in a deputy from the U.S. Department of Energy to help secure out-of-state crews.
Jeffrey Butler, president and CEO of Connecticut Light & Power, said he still has a request for 300 line crews, which hasn’t been met, but there are currently 321 line crews from other states here and more are expected. The company employs 172 line workers bringing its total number of line crews working to restore more than 650,000 customers as of Tuesday night to 493.
Butler also dismissed rumors that three out-of-state crews working in the state during Tropical Storm Irene weren’t paid. He said two of the contractors were paid yesterday and one will be paid Wednesday.
Pressed on why they had to wait so long for payment when CL&P will send out cancellation notices to customers within 30 days of non-payment, Butler said it’s been 60 days since the last event.
He said he doesn’t know when the invoice was submitted, but it’s the company’s policy to review the invoice and make sure all the charges were prudent.
Meanwhile there’s a report that Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is very happy with the response to the storm in his state, even going so far as to suggest an unprecedented number of crews are at work repairing damaged lines. Asked by Malloy to respond to it, Butler said it’s an apple and oranges comparison.
He said the only thing he’s been reporting is the number of line and tree crews. He said he the report from Massachusetts included other support staff such as patrol workers out patrolling down lines.
CL&P has 493 line crews, 407 tree crews, 187 patrol crews, and 300 wires down patrol crews, Butler said. Not included in that is the 55, five person crews the company has working on the transmission lines, which came down during the October Nor’easter. The damage to transmission lines was the biggest different between this storm and Irene.
“I have not been able to personally verify the analysis that Jeff just gave you, but both he and UI did that analysis. I think to some extent if we accept their explanation people have been comparing apples to oranges,” Malloy said.
While CL&P continues to receive criticism for its response from customers angry about being in the dark, hundreds treated Malloy like he was a rockstar Tuesday when he visited the L.P. Wilson Community Center in Windsor. He shook hands with residents and received a tour of the packed center.
Debra Callis, who has been at the center on and off for the past two days, was excited the governor came to visit.
“He’s a good governor,” she said. “I like that he committed a little time to come visit us.”
As for the inconvenience over the past few days of darkness, Callis said she loves her town. She said people have learned to be more courteous and she actually enjoys coming to the center.
Windsor Mayor Donald Trinks said CL&P has been doing a good job of communicating with the town even though restoration won’t begin until later Tuesday. When he checked the outage report on his phone before Malloy pulled up it still showed the town 100 percent in the dark.
Trinks who also owns Bart’s Drive-Thru said he went in the Monday and cooked up the inventory that was about to spoil to make sandwiches for all the workers and volunteers.
Most if not all of Windsor has been out of power since Saturday because a transmission line that feeds a substation in town was damaged.