"Whether we ever get to the point where individual assistance would be granted, that's less clear,'' Malloy said. "We do not currently have evidence of that level of damage but we are pushing municipal officials to tell us of damaged homes, damaged businesses and the like. If we get to that, there's a whole additional set of benefits that might be made of available to the public."

Nov 7

Connecticut Light & Power may miss its goal of restoring power to 99 percent of customers by the end of Monday, the company's chief operating officer, Jeffrey Butler, said at a morning press conference — more bad news to people likely to spend a 10th night in cold darkness.

The utility company still aims to restore 99 percent of customers by midnight Monday, he said, "however, given the extent and complexity of the damage in the areas hardest hit by the storm, we may not achieve this goal."

The company had initially set the goal for 99 percent restoration at midnight on Sunday, but it became clear yesterday afternoon that it would not meet that benchmark.

CL&P has 2,836 line and service crews working across the state, with the focus on the Simsbury and Tolland service areas, Butler said.

The Simsbury region covers the hard-hit Farmington Valley, Bloomfield and West Hartford, where more than ten thousands 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 of its customers have had their power restored, and he asked for patience as the workers continue their task.

"It is extremely frustrating, we understand that, and we're doing everything possible to get power restored to customers as quickly as possible," he said. "I know there's frustration out there. I know there's anger out there."

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.

On Sunday, he apologized for missing the utility company's self-imposed deadline of midnight for having power restored to 99 percent of customers.

In addition to restoring power from the devastating Oct. 29 snowstorm, the company is dealing with additional outages that occur for other reasons. CL&P is reported about 17,000 new outages this morning — they could have been caused by branches weakened in the storm were knocked down, 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 this morning. Butler said he did not know why some customers in those towns lost power today.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy addressed the media before Butler spoke. He said Election Day will proceed as planned tomorrow. Residents have until noon today to register after Malloy signed an executive order last week extending the registration deadline as a result of the storm.

About 98 percent of polling places in the state have power, although in West Hartford, there are as many as six polling places that still lack electricity, Malloy said.

"They will be priorities and we are assured that each town will be in a position to hold its election tomorrow,'' Malloy said, noting that Secretary of the State Denise Merrill is working with CL&P to ensure that.

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.

Whether the state will receive the highest designation, which would allow individuals to recoup costs, remains unclear.

"Whether we ever get to the point where individual assistance would be granted, that's less clear,'' Malloy said. "We do not currently have evidence of that level of damage but we are pushing municipal officials to tell us of damaged homes, damaged businesses and the like. If we get to that, there's a whole additional set of benefits that might be made of available to the public."

Also in Connecticut today is staff from the office of former FEMA administrator Jame Lee Witt, who was retained by Malloy to conduct a review of the power company's performance during and after the storm.

Malloy said the investigation will focus on the companies, CL&P and United Illuminating, not on the government's response. But he said he is analyzing the way state government managed the crisis as well.

"We're constantly reviewing and doing that in the room we've been sitting in hour after hour each day,'' Malloy said. "The Witt review will primarily deal with the utilities because clearly the biggest problem we've had is restoration of power, both in this storm and the Irene storm."

But, he added, "we will go through a very rigorous process internally to look at the things we could have done better should have done better.'' That assessment will be shared with the public as well, he said.

Earlier Sunday, Butler said that 2,313 tree and line crews were working around the state Sunday.

An additional 60 state Department of Transportation crews were working around the state Sunday, including 14 focused on storm debris, and 496 members of the Connecticut National Guard were also dispatched, according to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

Crews continued to work into Sunday evening and lights began to flicker on in some of the hardest hit communities, including the Lake Garda section of Farmington. But vast swaths of those towns faced another night without power.

Butler urged people who see their neighbors lights come on, but not their own, to call CL&P at 800-286-2000 or 860-947-2000. CL&P may not know some homes are without power, he said.

West Hartford Mayor Scott Slifka described CL&P's results as "far short of acceptable."

One of the towns that will not reach 99 percent restoration is Bloomfield, which as of Sunday afternoon had 44 percent of CL&P customers without power.

Bloomfield Town Council member Joan Gamble said Sunday that Butler's remarks throughout the storm reminded her of a line from the Lone Ranger television series.

"He speaks with forked tongue," Gamble said.

Gamble said she plans to engage her fellow council members and pursue a lawsuit against the utility and that she hopes other towns follow suit.

"There's definitely an appetite for it," she said.

Prior to Sunday's storm update, Malloy revealed that the utility would not meet its self-imposed goal of 99 percent restoration by midnight.

Malloy said that he was trying to give towns and cities time to "make preparations based on the reality of the situation – not what CL&P hopes to have happen – and residents need to make individual decisions about what to do over the next few days."

"To say that I'm frustrated and angry is an understatement," Malloy said at a Sunday press briefing.

Malloy also said that he had instructed state Attorney General George Jepsen's office to participate in the independent review of CL&P's response to the storm.

Jepsen said his office would gather evidence and consider possible actions, including suing the utility on behalf of the state for damages.

Butler reiterated during the briefing that he welcomed the review, but acknowledged that communications between the utility and town and state officials could be improved.

In an email Saturday afternoon, Tolland Town Manager Steve Werbner expressed frustration that his town's percentage of outages had actually increased from 50 to 56 percent and that the town's elderly housing complex remained without power.

"This is a priority but no time frame for repair is given," Werbner said, adding that low hanging wires were interfering with fire apparatus on more than a dozen town roads.

"I have informed our CL&P representative, who is doing a good job with what he has to work with, that his company has no credibility with me and that their performance is beyond unacceptable," Werbner said.

Malloy said Sunday that he had received complaints from many town leaders who said that they were misled by the utility about how many crews were working in their towns, when work would be completed and when power would be restored.

Col. John Whitford, a spokesman for the National Guard, said Sunday that the troop's focus had shifted somewhat from Simsbury and Avon to Windsor Locks, Enfield and Farmington.

CL&P had wrestled outages down below the 10 percent level by Saturday night, restoring power to tens of thousands of people but still leaving a number of towns from the Farmington Valley east to the Massachusetts border still largely cold and dark.


Local officials on Friday said that CL&P would be held responsible if anyone dies because emergency crews couldn't reach them in areas where power lines are still down and electricity is still out.

"It's on their heads,'' said South Windsor Fire Chief Philip Crombie Jr.

The South Windsor Fire Department issued a terse press release, saying people "could die" if CL&P doesn't make wires safe.



Six of the seven Democratic members of the state's U.S. congressional delegation signed a letter Friday that requested an investigation in CL&P's response to the storm.

The Congress members, including U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Joseph I. Lieberman, asked Jon Wellinghoff, the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, to decide whether CL&P violated the Energy Policy Act of 2005 because it restored power to other Northeast states faster than to Connecticut.


Also last week, State House Republican Leader Lawrence Cafero called for a special session in December to deal with legislative proposals aimed at avoiding a similar situation in the future.

Among proposals raised by state lawmakers so far:

--A law, modeled after legislation passed in Massachusetts, that would require a series of benchmarks for utilities companies--with stiff fines if they fail to meet them.

--A requirement that gas stations and senior housing developments have emergency generators.

--A measure that would mandate telecommunications towers have back-up generators available.


There have been eight storm-related deaths in the state since Saturday's storm, four of which involved carbon-monoxide poisoning.

Courant Staff Writers Daniela Altimari, Christine Dempsey, Don Stacom, Christopher Keating, David Owens and Steve Goode contributed to this story.



Nov 5

Connecticut Light & Power wrestled outages down to the 15 percent level by early Saturday afternoon, restoring power to tens of thousands of people but still leaving a dozen towns from Farmington to Union mostly cold and dark.

There's been enough progress in many communities that once-bustling emergency shelters are closing or moved to smaller quarters.

With more roads passable, towns are considering reopening schools on Monday. And their municipal road crews are out of emergency mode, instead focusing on how to haul away the heaps of brush and debris that the storm left behind.

The story is dramatically different in the Farmington Valley and north central towns, though, where at least half the homes remain dark. Schools will be closed Monday in West Hartford, Simsbury and other towns.

"It's as bad as it can get. There's so much frustration," said Joan Gamble, a member of the town council in Bloomfield, where CL&P reports 72 percent of its 10,000 customer still have no power. "People at the shelter are getting very agitated. I've been saying I'd like to see that CL&P CEO in an unheated jail cell."

As of 2 p.m., the communities suffering the widest blackouts were Avon, Canton, East Windsor, Farmington, Granby, Simsbury, Somers, South Windsor, Stafford, Tolland, Union and West Hartford.

CL&P Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Butler said Saturday morning that the utility is working with seven times its usual number of line crews and are not asking for any more crews form other utility companies. At a press conference, Butler reaffirmed the company's self-imposed midnight Sunday deadline to have power restored to 99 percent of its customers.

As of 3 p.m., a little over 193,000 of CL&P's customers remained without power, about 15 percent of the total.

Butler also said customers who are late paying their October CL&P bill will not be charged late fees.

He continued to take questions about communication with town officials and customers.

"We've gotta be better about communicating changing conditions," Butler said, adding that CL&P has assigned senior managers to specific towns to help work with municipalities.

As mayors and first selectmen were seething Friday on the seventh night without power for many households in their towns, Gov. Dannel P. Malloyordered an independent review of the response by state electric companies to the pre-Halloween snowstorm that plunged the state into darkness.

Malloy announced that a consulting firm led by former Federal Emergency Management Agency Director James Lee Witt will conduct a complete review of the response by CL&P and United Illuminating in the wake of the storm. The firm, Witt Associates, will perform the work for free, and Malloy arranged the review after a conversation with a fellow Democratic governor,Martin O'Malley of Maryland. Witt's firm, which specializes in crisis management, has pledged to finish the review by Dec. 1.

"As soon as everyone's lights are back on, we need to have a very timely, thorough review of the power companies' performances, to identify what went wrong, why it went wrong, and most importantly, identify solutions for the short-term before the next winter storm impacts Connecticut," Malloy said.