Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, speaking during an early evening news conference Monday, said he believes that profit-driven attrition has no doubt thinned the ranks of line workers at CL&P and United Illuminating.
Asked if he was concerned about such tactics now affecting the speed at which Connecticut recovers from the storm, Malloy answered in the affirmative.
“I suspect that the industry has changed to such an extent that that may be the case,” Malloy said. “I expect it is the case. I also know that we pay very high rates for electricity, particularly on the generating side.”
Malloy said he was proud to have eviscerated the old Department of Utility Control and rolled its duties into a new state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
John J. Prete, senior vice president of UI, said he thought that the utility’s line crews are down about 10 percent, compared to the number of crews that tackled the outages after Hurricane Gloria in 1985. “Our internal line is not far off from where we were, within percents, 10 percent,” Prete said.
He said that crews from Kansas City and Indiana are on the job servicing outages in the UI area, which is centered in Bridgeport and New Haven. “We’re just grabbing as we can the crews that we need to do the work and we need more,” Prete said.
Jeffrey D. Butler, president and chief operating officer of CL&P, agreed that his company’s crews have also decreased since 1985. “I’ve been in the industry since ’79, absolutely I believe it’s probably lower,” he said. “I can speak for the behalf of the entire industry, there’s probably fewer line workers within the utilities today than there were in 1985.”
Butler said that there are 800 crews working 16 hours on and 8 hours off. About 200,000 CL&P customers had power restored by early Monday evening, but 570,000 remained without service.
Prete said that 155,000 customers, about half of UI’s more than 300,000 service area, experienced service outages. By midnight Monday, he expected 85,000 customers to still be without power.