James A. Muntz, presidnet of Northeast Utilities Transmission, was assigned to oversee restoration work in the Farmington Valley and West Hartford. NU is CL&P's parent company. Ken Bowes, CL&P's vice president of energy delivery services, was overseeing work in the Tolland-Vernon-Somers area.

When told that some Simsbury residents reported seeing virtually no crews in their neighborhoods Sunday afternoon and evening, Butler responded, "I see the trucks. There have been a lot of lights turned on in the last eight days."

Butler acknowledged that people are upset and angry with him, but asked that residents not take their frustration out on crews. He said CL&P employees as well as outside crews are working hard to restore power. "Right now, for CL&P we're 10 times our normal work force," he said.

Natalie Swan of Colonial Drive in Somers, another hard-hit town served by CL&P crews from Tolland, said her neighborhood looks much like it did Oct. 30 in the immediate aftermath of the storm. Her neighborhood, just off of Route 83, is still a mess.

"We have had no help in this neighborhood," Swan said Monday night. "We have tree branches that are on top of wires and one of the roads in my neighborhood is still closed. We think we should probably see the tree trucks before we see the people to help with the lines, but nothing here."

Malloy, asked how he'd hold CL&P and its executives responsible, said "through the regulatory process," such as by raising questions about whether the company can seek to recover losses for storm damage. Malloy also said his office has been talking with the office of state Attorney General George Jepsen about such issues. He would not commit himself when asked if he might seek legal action against CL&P; he said that depends "on what we might find" after the investigation. "And I presume we're going to find some degree of malfeasance which may arise to a recoverable action."

More than 40,000 CL&P customers were still without power Monday evening.

The investigation of how CL&P and United Illuminating responded to the storm will be performed by a Washington-based consulting firm headed by James Lee Witt, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency during the Clinton administration.

Witt's firm has agreed to work for free. Charles Fisher, a vice president with the Witt consulting firm, said the company agreed to do the investigation on a "pro bono" basis after Maryland Gov.Martin O'Malleyput the firm in contact with Malloy. Fisher said the Witt firm has "been asked by the governor to conduct an expedited, high level, independent assessment of the utilities restoration."

Fisher said: "We will seek to answer the following key questions: What were the utilities' emergency restoration plans? To what extent were the employees and … managers trained on those plans? And to what extent did the company exercise the plans, and finally how did the actual execution compare to the plan and to standard practice?"

Answering that questions will involve examining "protocols" for handling and repairing downed wires, plans for hiring out-of-state restoration crews, and communications by utilities with state and local government officials, Fisher said.

Fisher said about a half-dozen Witt representatives would conduct their research this week, and are requesting documents from utility companies. He said they plan to interview utilities managers and front-line employees on work crews, as well as local government officials. He said the company would work with Jepsen's office and issue its findings and recommendations no later than Dec. 1. Malloy said that if any outside consultant was hired to oversee implementation of changes, Witt would not be guaranteed anything and would have to compete with other firms.

The Simsbury region covers the hard-hit Farmington Valley, Bloomfield and West Hartford, where more than 10,000 homes and businesses remain without power. The Tolland area serves the north central part of the state, where many small towns continue to cope without power.

Butler said the crews would not be released until all CL&P customers have power restored, and he asked for patience as the workers continue their task.

The briefing, a twice-daily ritual in the wake of the Oct. 29 storm, turned tense when reporters asked Butler why the company keeps setting deadlines it can't meet.

Butler responded, as he has in the past, that the state saw a record amount of damage.

"Again, this is the worst storm to hit the state ever," he said.

In addition to restoring power from the Oct. 29 storm, the company is dealing with additional outages that occur for other reasons. CL&P reported about 17,000 new outages Monday morning — they could have been caused by weakened branches weakened falling onto lines, or a car striking a utility pole, Butler said.

Harwinton and Burlington, two communities where significant progress had been made in restoring power lost as a result of the storm, each saw sudden spikes in the number of outages Monday morning. Butler said he did not know why some customers in those towns lost power on Monday.

Meanwhile, Malloy said eight teams from the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are touring Connecticut to collect data to help build the case for a major declaration of emergency, a classification that will bring more significant reimbursement for storm-related clean-up costs to cities and towns.