Despite assurances from Connecticut Light & Power Co. officials that they had paid all of the contractors who worked during Tropical Storm Irene, hundreds of unpaid invoices submitted by dozens of companies remained unpaid as of mid-November, according to a new filing by the company.
More than 250 unpaid bills were more than 30 days old, records show, and many were submitted within weeks of the August storm.
The assurances came during recovery efforts from the Oct. 29 nor'easter, amid questions over the utility's ability to recruit repair crews. Several of the unpaid contractors provided line crews during Irene but did not return to Connecticut for the October snowstorm that left hundreds of thousands without power while the utility struggled to get crews into the state.
Details on CL&P's payments to contractors were included in documents filed by the utility company last Friday with the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority — one of several groups investigating how the company handled the two storms, which hit Aug. 28 and Oct. 29.
The contractor documents will likely be submitted to the Two Storm Panel established by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to investigate the utility's response to the storms, and to Witt Associates of Washington, D.C., which also is investigating CL&P's response.
The panel is scheduled to meet again Wednesday, while Witt's report is expected to be ready by Thursday.
CL&P's filing included the names of the contractors that were hired, the date invoices were received by the utility, and the date payments were made, through Nov. 14.
The two companies with the most unpaid bills were Pike Electric of North Carolina and Chain Electric of Mississippi, records show. Pike submitted 127 invoices — nearly all of them received by CL&P on Oct. 3 — and two had been paid by Nov. 14. Chain submitted 62 invoices and had been paid for 19.
Pike and Chain provided line crews to CL&P during Irene. Pike crews returned to help in October and were among the first to arrive in Connecticut following the snowstorm. Chain did not send crews back to Connecticut for the second storm.
Following the October storm, The Courant reported that at least four contractors did not return to Connecticut because they had not been paid for working on Irene.
CL&P officials denied that was the case and insisted that the utility was up to date on payments.
"As soon as companies provide their bills, we have paid them. We always pay our bills," CL&P spokesman Mitchell Gross said Nov. 1. The company later acknowledged that a small number of invoices had gone unpaid but insisted they were sending checks promptly once invoices were reviewed and approved.
Monday, CL&P spokeswoman Katie Blint said by email that the company pays its bills in a timely manner, while acknowledging that "approximately 9% of more than 2,870 bills have been in processing for 30 days or more."
"While we will not comment on a specific contractor's invoice, I can tell you that once invoices are verified for accuracy they will be paid,'' Blint said. "If there are questions about an invoice, this process can indeed take time and it is not unusual for us to require additional information or review time for a small portion of our invoices."
Blint said the payment of invoices "did not materially impact our ability to get crews to help with the restoration effort" after the October storm.
The regulatory filing shows CL&P was overdue on hundreds of invoices at the time of the October snowstorm, with hundreds still overdue and unpaid weeks later.
The filing shows CL&P received 2,874 invoices related to Tropical Storm Irene between Aug. 31 and Nov. 12. As of Nov. 14, more than 2,300 invoices had been paid and about 250 were unpaid but less than 30 days old.
But that left 264 invoices — about 9 percent of all bills submitted — that were unpaid and at least a month old as of Nov. 14.
There were others besides Pike that hadn't been paid at all. N.G. Gilbert Corp. of Indiana had not been paid for any of 24 invoices received Oct. 3, records show. They did not send crews for the October storm.
It could not be determined Monday how many of the 264 invoices have been paid since Nov. 14.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times