Rate the utility companies: Did UI and CL&P improve their storm response?

After the region suffered massive power outages thanks to Hurricane Irene in 2011, the local power companies, Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating Corp. promised to do better in the future. Fast forward to October when Superstorm Sandy struck.

How did the utilities perform? Did they live up to the promises they made a year earlier?

Let us know in the comment section below.

Categories: General
Jeff Bustraan

6 Responses

  1. Peter Malkin says:

    This excellent series focuses upon the failure of CL&P and UI to pursue long-term programs to provide the reliable service which they are obligated to provide as regulated monopolies. Milking the systems to create short-term profits to enhance stock price and executive compensation and facilitate bail out mergers is not proper policy for companies granted monopolies for public service

    No matter how many trees are cut down on public and even private property, the antiquated power delivery system of overhead wires on wooden poles is unacceptable. Almost all of Europe has buried its power lines. After Sandy,Con Ed reported that underground wires are nine times more free from interruption than overhead wires in its system. Concord, Massachusetts, has adopted a program of burying all power and cable lines over a period of years funded through a relatively small surcharge on utility bills restricted to this use. Each year the Concord decides which lines to bury with the imprest surcharge funds.

    For two years First Selectman Tesei has held a series of meetings with CL&P and cable companies to pursue a demonstration project of undergrounding to determine actual cost and service improvement. Former First Selectman Jim Lash,an MIT trained engineer,and I have attended these meetings and urged that Greenwich move forward with undergrounding over a realistic number of years. After two years, these utilities have failed even to produce a plan and a cost estimate for undergrounding the lines from the Railroad Avenue substation along Field Point Road past Town Hall and along to Greenwich Library (which functions as an emergency facility during repeated power outages) and possibly along Dearfield Drive to Greenwich Hospital). This failure is really inexcusable.

    Despite repeated urging (but no other action) by the Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA), these utilities have not even been able to rehang the cables on the new taller wooden poles that CL&P has installed from Cos Cob and up along North Street so that we now have two poles, tall for power and short for cables, and both unsatisfactory to provide reliable service and unattractive excrescences in our Town

    The technology exists to underground power and cable lines and to operate them efficiently and much more reliably. At this time of historically low interest rates, the utilities with their inflated profits and excellent credit ratings could easily borrow the funds needed to undertake this long overdue modernization with the bonds repaid by a surcharge segregated and imprest solely to repay the bonds – or a more gradual program following the Concord model could proceed. Over the long term, taking into account not only reduced line maintenance costs and also reduced losses by business and property owners and municipalities, such a program would be cost effective – and environmentally preferable in our state which had the worst air quality rating of all 50 states,which air quality would suffer further through the planned program of deforestation

  2. Margaret Mintz says:

    Thank you for publishing this shocking data on CT L and P.
    How can a country have profit making be the goal of a public utility that is vital for the security and well being of its people?

    In my opinion, this utility needs to be owned by the people and run for the people. Lets get profit making at our expense, threatening our personal and national security out of power.

  3. Karen Reiss says:

    The UI wasn’t well organized, which reflected badly on their performance during Hurricane Sandy. There weren’t enough outside people hired to help from the neighboring states. I lost electricity for 4 days, and could seem to get a definitive answer as to when my power was to be restored.

    The bottom line is that we have a 19th century utility company trying to cope with a 21st century storm.

  4. Karen Reiss says:

    I was disappointed in UI’s performance during Hurricane Sandy. My electricity was out for 4 days. When I contacted the UI,they were only able to give me an end date when all power would be restored to the area.

    I don’t feel the UI was very organized. My understanding is that during the one to two day assessment phase, no restorative work was done. I also feel that the UI didn’t imported enough outside help. I was told that the linemen were working 16hr shifts which terminated at 10pm. It would make more sense for the UI to have had three 8hr shifts daily, so that the issues could be addressed in a more timely fashion.

    The bottom line is that we have a 19th century utility company trying to cope with a 21st century storm.

  5. Lisa says:

    My father lives in Trumbull on Dayton Rd. He lost his power the first day of storm Sandy and did not have it restored until 6 days later. I think for the rates you charge this is disgusting and highly unacceptable. Even in a small rainstorm he loses his power quite a bit. You should update the equipment on his street since it is so outdated. Also when the power is out you should have more workers in place to fix the problems faster. The customers deserve better treatment and the management should not get such high salaries. It should not be profits before customers

  6. Sue Sweeney says:

    The CL&P response was much better. However, it wasn’t anywhere good enough.

    1. The whole Northeast needs software to let customers know the exact status of their personal electrical emergency- not the whole town or the whole zip code, and not the simplistic “on or off”. Tell the truth about what’s really happening. This can be done.

    2. Putting up the wires time and time again doesn’t cut it, no matter how well done. It is an unsupportable reoccurring cost. We need multiple, smarter solutions – metal poles, buried lines, shorter (native) trees near lines, mini-grids, solar generators, etc., etc. We need CL&P to lead this, not be a foot-dragging follower.