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First Storm Review Completed, Findings To Be Released

by Christine Stuart | Dec 2, 2011 6:30am
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Posted to: Local Politics, State Capitol, Weather

Christine Stuart file photo

Charles Fisher of Witt Associates

Witt Associates, the company Gov. Dannel P. Malloy asked to review Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating’s response to the October snowstorm, will unveil the results of its investigation today at a 10 a.m. news conference.

The report will be given by Witt Associates Vice President Charles Fisher whose team conducted interviews with everyone from utility executives to union linemen. The company headed by the former Federal Emergency Management Agency Director James Witt also examined wire down protocols, damage assessments, and mutual aid contracts.

Most of the public and political criticism after the Oct. 29 storm was aimed at Connecticut Light & Power which services nearly 80 percent of Connecticut’s utility customers. United Illuminating received little criticism for its effort restoring about 52,000 customers. Connecticut Light & Power had more than 830,000 customers without power, many of them for a week or more.

The state’s largest utility also failed to meet its self-imposed restoration deadline. There were also reports that it was unable to get enough contractors to come to the state because it failed to pay contractors for their work during Tropical Storm Irene.

But aside from unpaid contractors, another casualty of the storm was former CL&P President and Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Butler.

Butler, who attended countless media briefings and received the brunt of the criticism from citizens, public officials, and editorial boards resigned on Nov. 17. Sources say Butler did an interview with Witt Associates before his resignation. After his resignation, Northeast Utilities, CL&P’s parent company, announced it was conducting a national search for his replacement.

Meanwhile CL&P said it has retained Davies Consulting, Inc. to perform a thorough evaluation of CL&P’s preparedness and response to recent unprecedented storms. NU President Charles Shivery stated that by the first week of January preliminary findings will be delivered to him and the NU Board of Trustees, with a final report completed in early February.

Prior to contracting with Witt to conduct a review of the freak snowstorm, Malloy predicted the probe would uncover “some level of malfeasance” in the utility’s response.

“CL&P has let the people of Connecticut down. They failed to meet the standard they identified after we had raised our frustration with them,” Malloy has said.

After Fisher releases his findings to the media he will brief Malloy’s Two Storm Panel at around 11 a.m.

The Two Storm Panel chaired by Fairfield County Business Association President Joe McGee has been shocked at how much their review of the storm has focused on infrastructure. He said he didn’t believe that was going to be the case when they formed following the response to Tropical Storm Irene.

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