Utility Company on Notice in the wake of Irene

September 2, 2011

Hartford, CT – Sen. Toni Boucher (R-Wilton) and Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-Wilton) are joining fellow lawmakers in asking for a hearing into what happened with Utility company response efforts in the wake of this week’s natural disaster.

Both Rep. Lavielle and Sen. Boucher have been traveling through their respective districts, disappointed with CL&P’s performance.

The text of their letter to CL&P President Jeff Butler calling for a full review can be read here.

Dear Jeff Butler,

The aftermath of Hurricane Irene has been distressing for residents of many of the towns in southwestern Connecticut. While most people expected loss of electric power, they also expected that outages would be repaired expeditiously and that regular and accurate information about progress would be available during the restoration process.

Unfortunately, this has not been the case. There were significant delays in beginning the repair work. Although the storm ended on Sunday, CL&P crews did not become fully operational in many towns in our area until the middle of the week.

On top of that, communication with CL&P customers has been irregular, inconsistent, inaccurate, and in many cases nonexistent, making the situation far more distressing for residents than it would otherwise have been. The overall lack of information on work plans and status reports has made people feel very anxious and — in the case of many older, ill, or disabled individuals – desperate. It is unacceptable that people already experiencing physical distress should be left in a communication vacuum.

We must also be sensitive to the needs of businesses that have struggled through this historic economic downturn only to face a week of closure because they had no power — at a time when Connecticut’s utility rates are among the highest in the nation.

It is extremely unfortunate that in the midst of this power crisis our utilities issued statements calling for a rate hike. This could not have come at a worse time, and, understandably, the public reaction was that a rate hike would only add insult to injury. We agree.

CL&P’s response to Hurricane Irene has demonstrated that it is imperative to conduct a full review, including public hearings and covering CL&P’s:

Disaster preparedness

Response procedures

Communications protocols.

This review must lead to dramatic improvement in each of these areas. It must also be completed expeditiously, as we enter hurricane season and new weather-related incidents may occur at anytime.

Right now, the priority must be on restoring power to homes and businesses. When that is done, however, we ask that you agree and come to the table with the Governor’s office, the General Assembly, and local municipalities, along with other affected parties, on such a review and improvement program as quickly as possible. We count on your full cooperation. The safety and well-being of Connecticut’s residents depends on it.


State Senator Toni Boucher (R-Wilton)

State Representative Gail Lavielle (R-Wilton)