An apologetic CL&P President Jeff Butler said the company was committed to calling in as many crews as were required to meet its self-imposed Sunday restoration deadline, while a frustrated Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he was running out of patience with the utility and warned against missing the deadline.
"Until those numbers are proven wrong, then I’m going to accept them,” Malloy said of that 99 percent of its customers throughout the state would see power restored by sometime Sunday, which numerous company officials affirmed Thursday the utility was sticking to. “But you can be assured that I’m applying as much pressure, or to use the term that I used yesterday, I’m holding everybody’s feet to the fire on this and I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes if they failed to deliver.”
As many parts of Connecticut struggled through a sixth straight day without power Thursday and CL&P continued to import more crews to aid in power restoration efforts, Malloy held another in his series of press conferences to update the media and the public about restoration and cleanup efforts in the wake of Winter Storm Alfred at the State Armory in Hartford.
Butler, CL&P’s chief executive who has seen pressure mount on him and his company as hundreds of thousands of Connecticut residents still remained without power six days after the storm, began his remarks by issuing an apology to CL&P’s customers.
“The thing I’m sorry about is that so many customers here in Connecticut have been out of power for so long, especially when you think about the weather conditions, the forecast that we’ve heard that it’s going to be colder,” Butler said. “…I personally wish that restoration was faster.”
Butler said that CL&P had 1, 495 total crews working on restoration efforts throughout the state Thursday and that as of 6 p.m. CL&P had restored 561,000 customers, but that 397,000 customers remained in the dark. He said CL&P would be adding 200 additional linemen to assist restoration efforts on Friday – 867 two-man line crews were working throughout the state Thursday – and that the company was confident that it would have outage numbers down to 300,000 customers by Friday morning and would meet its Sunday deadline.
“I have not put a cap on crews. We’re brining in whatever resources are available to expedite the restoration to all Connecticut customers as quickly as possible,” he said. “…We continue to strive to achieve the 99 percent restoration for all towns, and I want to reiterate all towns by Sunday at midnight. Will it be a challenge? Absolutely. But that’s why I said that we are doing everything possible to bring in every resource available.”
When asked for his response to , Butler replied that the utility was committed to “bringing in whatever crews we can get” over the next several days to meet the deadline.
“I understand some of the concerns, some of the frustrations from the towns based on where they are today, but our focus is to get 99 percent of every towns customers restored by Sunday night,” he said.
Malloy said he would also be deploying 100 National Guard troops throughout some of the hardest hit areas of the state beginning Thursday night, such as Avon and Simsbury, to help clear debris from the storm.
When asked his opinion of CL&P’s preparedness and response to the storm and its self-imposed Sunday deadline, Malloy said he wished to focus on the immediate need to restore power to Connecticut residents, and that there would be plenty of time for examination or criticism later.
“I think the proof ultimately will be do they get us down to 300,000 tomorrow? Do they get us down to 99 percent by Sunday?” Malloy said. “And then we can all have a field day in taking this thing apart and looking at it in all its pieces from the first weather report to the last person being turned on.”