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Monday, March 22, 2010

Rell: Investigation Into Utility Storm Response “In Full Swing”

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Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced that the investigation she ordered into the actions of the state’s two largest electric utilities during and after the March 13-14 storm is now in full swing.

Beginning today, the Department of Public Utility Control and the Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security are sending Connecticut Light & Power Co. (CL&P) and United Illuminating Co. (UI) numerous requests for information, Rell’s office said.

Through comprehensive interrogatories, the agencies are seeking details such as how the utilities responded to calls from city leaders, fire and police chiefs and others; when and how repair crews were dispatched; and why it took as long as a six days for some customers to have power restored.

“I also want the DPUC and DEMHS to make sure this investigation focuses on the experiences of the people most affected,” Rell said.

“That means the emergency officials who could not reach CL&P and UI during the storm, and the tens of thousands of customers who waited days their power to come back on.

“There are several ways that customers can contact the DPUC,” the governor said. “They 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

“In addition, I have asked the investigators to have public hearings in Fairfield County to gather public testimony, although the times and locations are not yet determined. All of the public comments will become a part of the formal record for this case.”

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, some 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. On March 16, the governor asked the DPUC and DEMHS to conduct a joint investigation into the complaints.

“The goal of this investigation is to make sure the companies are responding in the proper way to emergency situations,” Rell said.

“It is simply unacceptable for a municipal official or a first responder to be unable to reach a utility company in a crisis like we had during the storm.

“Similarly, I want to know whether all the necessary resources were out there as quickly as they should have been and used as efficiently as they should have been. Too many people were without power for far too long.”

Posted 03/22/10 at 01:58 PM


Comment Policy

Another concern is the unavailability of cable phone service when power is out. There needs to be an alternative phone service available to receive Code Red or emergency calls.

Mary Ann West

Posted by Mary A. West on March 22, 2010 at 09:41 PM | #

There is an alternative.  It is a traditional landline.

Posted by Elisabeth Keane on March 22, 2010 at 11:18 PM | #

Cable phone service IS a landline - whatever brings the wires down tends to bring them all down, although it is possible that telephone lines remain viable even when the power is out, as they carry their own “power” (unlike cable-provided telephone service, which requires your power to be on at the house as well.) IF there is a way to register your cell phone as the primary “code red” call#, that would be the solution. Cell phone service worked throughout the week - many were relying on their car cell-phone chargers to keep that going (and their internet access going if they had such service through their cell phone) during the loss of CL&P;power.

Posted by Jack Whittle on March 23, 2010 at 12:16 AM | #

The Town of Westport can preventively remove dangerous trees to lessen the damage from such storms. Here’s hoping we can find funds to do so.

Posted by Richard Webb on March 23, 2010 at 10:25 PM | #

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