Malloy, legislature to review response to Irene

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy intends by the end of the week to name a panel that will review how the state, municipalities, non-profits and the utilities responded to Tropical Storm Irene.

The governor’s review is intended to be broader than examining the performance of the state’s two major power companies, Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating.

The General Assembly’s leadership also announced hearings Tuesday into storm readiness, with a special emphasis on the utilities.

“My constituents want to know why it took so long to get the power back on in certain areas,” said Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven. “Probing questions need to be asked, and I’m confident the legislative hearing is the appropriate venue to get answers.”

Some customers were without electricity for a week, prompting widespread complaints, though a federal energy official said the pace of restoration was reasonable given the extent of the damage.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney wrote to CL&P on Tuesday, pressing the state’s largest utility to conduct its own review of storm issues, including readiness and staffing levels.

Roy Occhiogrosso, the governor’s senior adviser, said Malloy is assembling a panel that will conduct the performance review the governor promised during the storm.

It will have a broad focus, looking at how people utilized the 211 phone system and how state agencies coordinated with municipalities, non-profits such as the Red Cross, and the utilities, Occhiogrosso said.

“Most people have already concluded that state government did a pretty decent job, but I’m sure that are things that upon review can be improved upon next time,” Occhiogrosso said.

Occhiogrosso said that the governor’s has no objection to the legislative hearings, which were announced in a joint press release by the House and Senate majorities.

“Legislators have every right to do that,” he said.

The hearings will be conducted by members of four legislative committees:Energy and Technology; Public Safety; Planning and Development; and Labor and Public Employees.

“I am pleased that almost all Connecticut residents now have their power restored,” said House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan, D-Meriden. “Too many, however, suffered without power for too long. That posed more than just inconvenience for them — it jeopardized their health, safety and livelihoods.”