When will power be restored?

Update: Wednesday 7:30 a.m. Connecticut utilities are now reporting that 477,642 homes are without power, Wednesday morning.

Specifically, CL&P are reporting 342,793 (27 percent of customers) without power and UI reports 134,849 (42 percent of customers) without power.

Update: Tuesday 1:30 p.m. Connecticut utilities are now reporting that 597,465 homes are without power; animprovement from the roughly 630,000 homes powerless for most of Monday morning.

Specifically, CL&P are reporting 462,502 (37 percent of customers) without power and UI reports 134,963 (42 percent of customers) without power.

By Bill Cummings

HARTFORD – As the state surveys damage from Hurricane Sandy, Connecticut’s two electric companies on Tuesday wouldn’t say when power will be restored to the over 630,000 customers still in the dark.

But both Connecticut Light and Power Company and the United Illuminating Company appeared to be in a better position to meet the challenge than last year, when the companies struggled to restore power after massive storms.

The utilities this time brought in hundreds of extra workers in advance of Sandy and those contractors are in the state and on the ground. As of 10 a.m. or so, CL&P had 487,310 customers without power and UI had 151,166 customers without power.

“I made it clear to the utility companies that their job is to get power back on as quickly as possible,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy during a morning news conference on Tuesday.

Neither Bill Quinlan, a CL&P vice president nor Tony Marone, a UI vice president, would place a deadline on when power will be fully restored. During last year’s storms, CL&P took considerable heat for missing its own deadlines.

Quinlan said CL&P’s system “took heavy damage,” especially in the Southwestern part of the state. He said 11 main transmission lines are out and patrols are now probing the damage.

“We are in full emergency response mode,” Quinlan said. “We have restored power to 135,000 customers since noon yesterday. We are working to open roads and assess damage.”

Quinlan said CL&P has 400 of its own line crews, which restore power, available and working. Additionally, he said 1,080 linemen, or about 540 two-man crews, were brought in from out of state and have been in Connecticut for several days.

There are also 600 tree crews and 500 service electricians ready to help the restoration effort, Quinlan said. On Monday, he said another 1,000 workers were requested from out of state but it’s not clear when, or if, those workers will arrive given the extensive damage along the Northeast.

Following Irene last year, the utility could only place less than 200 linemen on the road the day after Irene hit and it took four days to put 770 crews in the field to deal with over 600,000 outages.

Marone, the UI vice president, said the decision to close three substations in Bridgeport on Monday, which left some 52,000 people without power, saved critical equipment and now means power can be restored sooner.

“The water was within a few inches of critical components,” Marone said. “We avoided what could have been a catastrophic event.”

Marone said Bridgeport’s power could be restored during the “daylight hours” Tuesday. He said two of the substations have been repowered and crews are checking for damage.

Like CL&P, UI brought in extra crews ahead of the storm. Marone said UI has 300 line crews and 200 tree crews on the road, along with nearly 60 service crews. UI maintains about 100 full time line crews.

Bill Cummings

Hearst Connecticut Newspapers

Cell: 203.414.1344

Office: 860.904.7210

Jim Shay