After getting blasted repeatedly by mayors, first selectmen, and his own customers for the past week, embattled utility president Jeffrey Butler spent time Monday night giving perspective on the intensity of the pre-Halloween storm and the difficulty to put the power back on after the state was plunged into darkness.
About 44,000 customers were still without power across the state as Butler spoke to reporters, but he focused on the customers who had already been reconnected.
He talked about 661 crews in the Tolland service area and another 597 crews in the Simsbury area – two of the hardest-hit areas where power is still out. But when told that some Simsbury residents reported seeing virtually no crews in their neighborhoods on Sunday afternoon and evening, Butler responded, “I see the trucks. There’s been a lot of lights turned on in the last eight days.’’
Overall, 97 percent of Connecticut Light & Power Company customers had their power restored after the peak of 831,000 customers had lost electricity. By comparison, 671,000 customers were out at the peak during Tropical Storm Irene, which barreled into East Haven and destroyed homes at Cosey Beach before knocking out power around the state in late August. CL&P had more than 16,000 “trouble spots’’ following Irene and about 18,000 “trouble spots’’ during the most recent storm. Based on those numbers, Butler, a former California resident who has been in Connecticut for less than three years, described the pre-Halloween event as “an unprecedented storm.’’
He acknowledged the criticism that has been focused toward him, but he said that he wanted to acknowledge the hard work by both CL&P and out-of-state crews.
“I know there are a lot of people who are upset with me personally,’’ Butler said.
He noted that Charles Shivery, the CEO of CL&P parent company Northeast Utilities, has been at the company’s emergency operations center during the storm. He added that he speaks regularly with his boss, Leon Olivier.
In Simsbury, residents in the southern end of town, including areas near the Latimer Lane School and the Ethel Walker School, had no power into the 10th day Monday in one of the hardest-hit areas. Relatively few trucks had been through the area on the preceding nine days as frustrations mounted.
By 7:15 p.m. Monday, the outages were still above 35 percent in Farmington, Somers, Simsbury, and Avon, according to CL&P. In Simsbury over the weekend, one of the few trucks in the area was from the Wright Tree Service that had its address emblazoned on the side of the truck: West Des Moines, Iowa. Trucks in Windsor came from Pike Electric in North Carolina as large numbers of out-of-state workers descended upon Connecticut and filled up many hotel rooms.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times