Six days after storm, CL&P’s restoration effort tops Irene

Though Connecticut Light & Power Co. officials have said repeatedly that last weekend’s snow storm caused more damage than Tropical Storm Irene in late August, it was not until Friday–the sixth day after last Saturday’s Nor’easter–that power restoration crew totals surpassed those called in for the earlier outage.

Company president and CEO Jeffrey Butler said during Friday morning’s media briefing at the state armory in Hartford that crews assigned to line repairs and tree removal–which make up the overwhelming bulk of the restoration workforce–now total 1,749. Most of those crews are two-member teams.

That total is 129 higher than the level working at the height of the cleanup after Irene, which hit Connecticut on Aug. 27-28 and caused more than 765,000 outages statewide.

By comparison, more than 880,000 outages were reported at the peak of damage after this storm.

Butler, who has come under fire all week since acknowledging his company has struggled to bring in additional private crews from out of state to assist with the restoration effort, reported that CL&P fell just short of its goal of having 300,000 outages or fewer by Friday morning. He reported 306,162 outages at the 8:30 a.m. briefing.

He said he expects power to be restored to another 100,000 customers in the next 24 hours.

But the utility executive insisted that the company will meet its goal of restoring 99 percent of all outages by the end of Sunday, despite forecasts of temperatures dropping into the low 20s.

“It’s something I take very personally,” he said. “We’re here to serve our customers.”

The company’s website also featured a new a new wrinkle Friday in its color-coded map for reporting outages. Various colors had been assigned primarily in 20-percentage-point increments. For example, communities with between 81 and 100 percent of customers without power were depicted in black, while those with 61 to 80 percent were in purple.

That changed Friday as CL&P added several more colors, assigning each one to 10-percentage-point increments. The company said this was done to reflect greater detail as the restoration effort nears its conclusion, but it also had the effect of reducing the number of towns shaded the ominous black.

Meanwhile, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Friday that the American Red Cross’s Connecticut operations would be distributing 5,000 carbon monoxide detectors to households in need. Those detectors have donated by United Technologies Corp.

The governor reported Thursday that four Connecticut residents have died and more than 275 others have suffered from CO poisoning, largely due to electricity generators being operated inside of homes where exhaust fumes accumulate.

With temperatures dropping, Malloy urged residents without electricity to consider visiting one of the 82 shelters or 109 warming centers set up in communities across the state.

Full details about those sites can be found by calling the state’s Infoline at 2-1-1, or by visiting