Conn. AG joining review of power company's response

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Nov 7, 2011


HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said Sunday his office is now involved in a review of Connecticut Light & Power Co.'s response to a prolonged power outage caused by a rare October snowstorm.

Jepsen said he will work with the Governor's Office and Witt Associates, a public safety and crisis management consulting firm based in Washington, D.C., to evaluate the company's performance following the Oct. 29 storm.

At the height of the storm -- of which heavy, wet snow weighed down trees and branches, causing much of the outages -- about 3 million Northeast residents lost power.

Nearly 10 days later, thousands in Connecticut are still without electricity.

Hartford-based Connecticut Light & Power, the state's largest utility company, announced Sunday it could not meet its self-imposed goal of restoring power to 99 percent of its 1.2 million customers by midnight.

During a late-night briefing at the State Armory, President and Chief Operating Officer Jeff Butler apologized.

"We have not met our expectations and the expectations we set for you. We have missed our goal," he said in a statement.

As of 11 p.m. Sunday, about 64,000 customers were without power. The majority of those customers were in the Farmington Valley and northern Tolland County, the company said.

"We have not given up and have about 2,500 line and tree crews at work," Butler said. "We will have 100 percent of our customers who were affected by this storm restored by Wednesday."

Following the announcement, Gov. Daniel Malloy released an updated list of restoration times by town.

"The closer we got to CL&P's self-identified goal of 99 percent restoration in each city and town by midnight tonight, the more skeptical I became of their ability to meet that goal," Malloy said in a statement.

"I'm releasing this information because towns and cities need 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."

Jepsen said he spoke to Malloy Sunday morning and agreed that it made sense for attorneys in the Attorney General's Office to work with Witt Associates to assess information "as it is developed."

The purpose of the "joint review," he said, is to ensure the interests of both the State and citizens are adequately protected.

"It would be irresponsible of me to stand before you today and speculate as to what, if any, action my office will take as a result of this review. Rest assured, however, the review will be thorough, thoughtful and searching. I will vigorously pursue the evidence and consider all legal theories," Jepsen said in a statement.

"I have already asked the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to expand its current investigation of Connecticut Light & Power Co.'s response to Hurricane Irene, to include an investigation of the response to the Oct. 29 storm."

He added, "Right now, today, the priority is to restore power to everyone in Connecticut."

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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