Attorney General Seeks Inquiry

State Attorney General George Jepsen on Thursday called for an investigation into CL&P's handling of the snowstorm and the subsequent blackout. He made the request of the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority on Thursday.

"I have received numerous complaints from affected citizens, many of whom are still waiting for their power to be restored," Jepsen said in a written statement. "Reliable electric service is a matter of public health and safety, and Connecticut's citizens deserve to know that the utilities and the State are doing everything possible to provide electric service as soon as possible."

Among the issues that need to be addressed, he said, are "CL&P's preparations for the magnitude of the storm; its advance reservation and payment procedures for out-of-state work crews; and the effectiveness of its response to the damage on the ground."

The authority on Sept. 22 began the response of reviewing CL&P and United Illuminating Co.'s response to Tropical Storm Irene, which also resulted in days-long power outages to hundreds of thousands of customers. He suggested that investigation be expanded to include CL&P's response to this storm as well.

Similarly, Malloy has already said he intends to ask a special task force investigating the utilities' response to Tropical Storm Irene to investigate their response to last weekend's snowstorm as well, making it what he called a "two-storm commission."

DEEP To Review Staffing Levels

The issue of staffing came up at the governor's morning storm briefing. Malloy said CL&P's staffing levels were approved by state regulators in 2008.

"In 2008 ... it was decided that current staffing levels were the acceptable level for current provision of day-to-day services. Obviously they kept that service number,'' Malloy said. "I'm not defending what [regulators] did in 2008, I'm simply [a] time before I was governor, that decision was actually brought and that decision was actually rendered."

"I think [regulators are] going to have to take a look at that issue in light of the difficulties we're having,'' Malloy added.

A reporter asked Butler if the company has enough crews on a daily basis.

"To do the normal work we do every day, yes we do,'' Butler responded. "I believe between our crews on the property and the contractors that we use that are here virtually all the time, we have resources to do the day-to-day business as well as storms.''

The top state utility regulator, Daniel C. Esty, said he intends to examine both everyday staffing levels, including the use of contractors, and the company's emergency response plan.

"One issue is whether the everyday level of line crew staffing is adequate, and frankly [that's] a question as well, from my point of view, that we're going to look into,'' Esty said after the formal briefing had concluded.

Esty, commissioner of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said the staffing levels approved in 2008 will be scrutinized "because I think there's a significant issue [with] not only the core level of staffing but the break down between permanent line crews and contractors.

"There's a greater ability to manage your own team,'' Esty said."It may well be there was an inadequate number of on-staff line crews, too much reliance on contractors, so that's a question we're looking at.''

Esty said his department will also look at "whether [CL&P's] game plan for a storm is adequate in any case. There's a very, very big question about whether the preparation for this storm, and for any significant storm, was at the scale necessary … that is an issue that needs to be looked into carefully, as to whether there is a storm preparation plan in place that is appropriate to the scale of the issues we're facing.''

Courant Staff Writer Dave Altimari, Dan Haar, Michael Walsh, Hilda Muñoz and Julie Stagis contributed to this story.