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CL&P: Full Restoration Could Take a Week

One-fourth of Brookfield continues to wait for the lights to come back on.

While Brookfield is better off than much of the state, as of Wednesday morning, a quarter of residents were still without power and Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P) still doesn’t have a better estimate on when the town and other parts of Fairfield County will be re-energized.

“We realize getting restoration times is important,” Jeff Butler, president and chief operating officer of CL&P said during a Wednesday morning press conference. “That is a primary focus right now.”

For now, only customers who live in the areas around Torrington, Cheshire, Tolland and Hartford will receive restoration estimates, Butler said. The company does not have information on when other customers will receive estimates, Butler said.

“We are getting those restoration projections,” he said.

CL&P has pledged to have fewer than 100,000 customers without power as of Saturday and full restoration by next Wednesday. As of today, more than 300,000 customers are without electricity – or about a quarter of the areas the utility serves in the state. The hardest hit areas are along the coast and eastern part of the state, Butler said.

The company has admitted it made missteps in its response to the storm, namely assuming that crews whose employers had promised to send them to Connecticut for the restoration effort would come.

CL&P said while it had lined up the workers in preparation for the storm and were expecting them to be in place by Saturday, some didn’t show up or were delayed 12 to 20 hours, which apparently left the company in a bind, Butler said.

“We got to a point we were verifying where each crew was,” he said. “Hopefully you can appreciate how frustrating that is.”

Butler said better managing the import of crews from other jurisdiction was among the lessons learned for the company.

“It’s an area that we’ll look into,” he said.

For now, the company is focused on making sure town centers have their power back within the next 36 hours so that grocery stores and gas stations can re-open, Butler said.

Newtown’s Main Street was one of the beneficiaries as four line crews worked Tuesday to fix the primary circuit in that area, returning full power Tuesday evening to the police station, library and other services.

The magnitude of the damage has proved daunting, with the eastern sections of the state and coastline suffering the most damage, Butler said.

 “It’s by far the worst storm,” he said.

As of the moment the company has 800 line crews and 400 tree crews, each made up of two workers, trying to restore electricity throughout the state, Butler said.

The total cost of the effort is about $75 million, and under state law the company is allowed to seek permission from the state to raise rates in order to pay for the cost.

J Varda August 31, 2011 at 07:20 PM
Brian, the reason the # of crews is important. Just spoke to a real person at CL&P and they said Brookfield was a low priority because we only had 25% without power. Low priority is just unacceptable after reading the large volume of assets they are deploying. Brookfields need is no less than any other CT town.
Greg Volpe August 31, 2011 at 07:36 PM
Brookfield's need is less then other towns. There are 57 other towns with more residents out of power and 78 towns with a higher percentage of residents out of power. Not to mention the fact that Canterberry, Chester, North Stonington, and Salem are 100% out of power, as well as many others in the high 90's and 80's. How do you think those people feel?
Greg Volpe August 31, 2011 at 07:42 PM
Show me this program.
David Propper August 31, 2011 at 08:19 PM
Greg, between Town Hall and the Fire Department is an area where you drop off your yard waste. You will also find wood chips. The town is not purchasing these chips. They are the refuse from potentially deadly trees that line the streets that the town has taken down. Maybe my use of the word "program" was strong but taking down these trees is an activity of the town's DPW.
Greg Volpe August 31, 2011 at 08:40 PM
I think what you are referring to are the tree wardens. Yes they look for dead trees or trees in dangerous locations, and yes they mark the trees for removal, and yes other towns have the same 'program'. I'll call them up and make sure that they have their crystal balls for the next storm. Out of every single tree that I personally saw down when I was out in that mess, not one of them was dead. They were living, healthy trees that fell. No one can predict that.
L August 31, 2011 at 09:05 PM
I was going to begin to leave a comment, however, the its really not worth it. The fact is with so many without power, schools should never have opened today. The families in this town have been going through very difficult circumstances, understandably, you make it sound like we were without power for 4 hours. What about laundry, what about showers, what about breakfast that we have no power to cook. Kids enjoyed school...yes. The problem is all the issues it takes to get them there. And in our neighborhood for one...kids had to walk around downed trees and power lines that are still sitting there, untouched. I know many who had to do the same. You would not be so thrilled if even one child was hurt on the way to school. The kids are home now in the dark, they will wake up tomorrow, again get ready for school in the dark, worried about it all over again so we can have our April vacation.
L August 31, 2011 at 09:06 PM
Well said!
Aaron Boyd (Editor) August 31, 2011 at 09:17 PM
Just got word from Maj. Purcell that there are two CL&P crews working in town as of 5 p.m. Wednesday and another expected to join them shortly.
Rob Gianazza August 31, 2011 at 11:19 PM
Greg is making valid points and sharing his opinion. Please respect his right to do that. As for the comment pertaining to cleaning up trees in Brookfield, perhaps you might remember a certain tragedy that occurred a few years back to a tree falling on a passing vehicle? Brookfield has a responsibility to keep the roadways safe.
jamrsr September 01, 2011 at 01:01 AM
Brian - hormonal woman? seriously?
Victor Katz September 01, 2011 at 01:55 AM
OK, here is some more facts: As of tomorrow, all School Bus transportation is back to its normal route - this means all routes have been cleared from fallen trees and wires. I know it's very difficult without power, but difficult is a relative term. Other towns near us are much worse off and they really have no end in site. My kids wake up to go to school and they therefore do not get subjected to the stress and frustration we as adults are currently dealing with, even if it's for a few hours. Instead they get to be with their friends and classmates, at least enjoying part of their day. As far as the rest, there are showers at the Y, water at the firehouse and plenty of laundermats - all things I have personally experienced including today.
J Varda September 01, 2011 at 02:40 AM
Brian & Greg, my priority is ALWAYS Family, Neighbor, State, Country. Apparently you seem to think Brookfield comes second to EVERYTHING. Being the Brookfield Patch focusing on Brookfield news and issues I would hope that is the priority to you also. Apparently the "east. coast" If this was some far off event I would Agree in the big picture issue BUT we are a part of the big picture. Greenech or North Stoningtion deserve no less focus than Beookfield. I pay my bills and my taxes an demand equal service. As per the 1st Selectmens 5:00 update there was zero work crews in Brookfield most of the day 1200 crews and 1 cannot be in Brookfield. This us 100% unacceptable. Greg & Brian if you feel so much unity to people outside of Brookfield perhaps u need go volunteer there or better yet move there. Brookfield Unite, support your neighbor, support your town 100%!!
L September 01, 2011 at 12:40 PM
I couldn't agree with you more. It's a crying shame school opened, Brookfield Bd of Ed! Some kids haven't had a decent meal in days, no lights to do homework in, OH, and if you found a hotel - Congrats! Some people had to leave Ct to get a hotel, thus getting their kids back to Brookfield for school was not easy. Let's not even start on the already floundering bus system - that was a BIG win last year. I see a trend with very poor decisions by the Board of Ed over these last couple of years.
Brian Gallagher September 01, 2011 at 01:28 PM
I was being facetious
Nic September 01, 2011 at 03:11 PM
My frustration lies with the ignorance of some folks who don't realize the levity of Irene. I'm a Brookfielder, formerly a Long Islander who has weathered many a hurricane. My family in Long Island had 4 feet of water in their homes, cars were swept away as well as houses. THEY will be without power and waffles, and homework tables for ALOT longer than Brookfield. If you're concerned about your children, protect them, DRIVE them to school, or not. The BOE did state that if you were uncomfortable with your child traveling on the roads to KEEP THEM HOME. If you're concerned about when the power will be turned back on, ask CL&P, or better yet, come up with a solution for WHEN then next storm comes, because it will. Then you can say you tried to better the community. Hows that for being united? How about everyone look at the situation for what it is, a tragedy for most and a lucky pass for others and see what we can do to HELP our neighbors instead of criticizing them? How do you know that some people who've commented here aren't CL&P employees? Or volunteer first responders who have been working around the clock to KEEP you safe and get things moving? You don't. Thank your neighbors, stop complaining and when you get dealt a barrel full of lemons, make some Limoncello.
Greg Volpe September 01, 2011 at 03:25 PM
Thank you Nic, well said.
Brian Gallagher September 01, 2011 at 03:25 PM
http://www.wcax.com/story/15362620/isolated-vt-communities-rely-on-atvs
Jerry Friedrich September 01, 2011 at 03:29 PM
Greg, Although I respect your opinion and your prospective on the situation, I believe you are entirely wrong and looking at it incorrectly.I fully understand your argument that some towns are 90 or 100% out, but being a "legal monopoly / utility" CL&P has a responsibility to all its rate payers equally. As part of that responsibility, adequate resources should have been contractually secured (by town) to handle "worse case scenarios" Word of mouth deals with promises of help is unacceptable.. Money needs to be accrued annually on their books to pay for such a scenario so no rate increase to rate payers should result from such an incident.Is this being done? There are approx 167 town in the state and as of the CL&P twitter feed they about 800 electric teams and 200 tree cutting team active today. Think about those numbers and apply it to your argument....it doesn't make a lot of sense. On Sunday I rode all around Brookfield and was only able to find tree related issues in the following locations. 1) Tower Road 2) Signal Hill 3) South Obtuse ( Newtown section). As of yesterday, all those trees have been handled. Additionally, before my excursion, I noticed the town employees had done an excellent job clearing whatever they could ( and were allowed to do) to open the streets.All other major and most secondary streets were safely passable.I am sure there were other streets may have been blocked that did not see but
Nic September 01, 2011 at 03:30 PM
Oh and while you're at it, take a gander at the Outer Banks and their destruction. Like the Father and his daughter sitting on nothing but steps that were left because their entire home was washed into the Atlantic. It's an eye-opening picture as to why WE could be going through. Count your blessings.
Jerry Friedrich September 01, 2011 at 03:36 PM
Page 2 speaking with several people in town, they are all cleared as of yesterday. This my questions to you are as follows:: 1) Was their a disaster scenario plan? 2) Why weren't the thousands of private electrical companies licensed in Ct contracted to assist the CL&P crews? That would have stretched their ability at least twofold. 3) Why were tree cutting companies not contracted also? 4) Given the fact ( my observation only) that the trees are cleaned in Brookfield and the electrical crews outnumber the tree crews by about 3 or 4 to one, why are the extra crews not serving towns where no tree cutting is required. To say the least, I believe CL&P has been lazy and ill-prepared for such a storm and as such do not deserve a rate increase to pay for it.....sorry !!!
Nic September 01, 2011 at 04:23 PM
@L: Brookfield schools are also providing breakfast to kids without power. Just FYI.
Nic September 01, 2011 at 04:26 PM
oh and you can use the shower facilities at the Y and oh, if you are concerend about not getting phone service, you can try to contact (by way of going there) the local pd or fd to see if they could do periodic welfare checks on your area, or you could just go to a hotel? neighbors helping neighbors. :)
Greg Volpe September 01, 2011 at 06:25 PM
Do you realize what the cost of thousands of electrical companies would cost? As well as tree cutting companies? You're demanding all these things, but expecting not to pay for it. Unfortunately the world does not work that way. And to say CL&P has been lazy and ill-prepared is to say that everyone that didn't go out and buy a generator and stock up on food and water has been lazy and ill-prepared. There are 1,280 line and tree crews in CT alone. Prioritizing on towns totally out of power and towns where commercial infrastructure has been brought down, such as Costco, Shoprite, Pharmacies... It is more vital to get power to these places so people can buy food and supplies.
Jerry Friedrich September 01, 2011 at 07:51 PM
Greg, I guess I wasn't clear. You contract with electrical companies for their employee just for this type of situation and you pay them only when they work. The costs would have been paid for by the accrued funds I mentioned that should have been accumulated over the years as a plan would have dedicated. Additionally, this outage is costing CL&P about $10 (my estimate only and it may be low) per customer per day which cannot be recovered. By cutting the time in half with the additional people, the additional revenue would have contributed to offset the costs. But, due to being "ill-prepared' their direction is now to ask for more money...and still without a plan. I agree with you commercial infrastructure argument but, that is not what is occurring. Your argument about people being ill-prepared is off base since many people did exactly that since all stores ran out of water. Besides, CL&P has a responsibility to be prepared as part of their mandate but they have proved they are not, and the individual homeowner only has to answer to themselves.
Victor Katz September 01, 2011 at 08:27 PM
Aaron, could you please post the latest update you may have from CL&P on the power restoration efforts in Brookfield. Thanks...
Aaron Boyd (Editor) September 01, 2011 at 08:45 PM
Victor, I spoke with a CL&P rep not too long ago and will be posting an update shortly, though there is little new information available right now.
Leigh Scarlett Fortin September 02, 2011 at 11:22 AM
Each and everyone of us have valid points and views here, so instead of putting someone down for their opinion, teach the next generation the value of everyones opinion. No matter what it was a POOR choice to start School before power was restored to the entire town- kids have anxieties even though grace periods with homework-they feel the pressures and are falling behind.. As of this morning 9% of Brookfield is still w/out power-just get everyone going-I am one still w/out-it is probably my single road that is the percentage. Realize that some people can't afford the EXTRA expenses for more than a few days w/out power-even if they have a generator. Hotel=good luck finding one-CL&P workers occupy the rooms. Yes, I do have a generator but only for my fridge, one light and internet so my Daughter can do college homework. I can't see overloading and wasting gas! I do not need all the luxuries..I only have wanted a straight answer from CLP or the town! Everyone enjoy what ever your day brings
Rob Gianazza September 02, 2011 at 12:26 PM
Thank you so much for recognizing the value of others opinions. I'd like to thank Victor Katz for sharing the multiple benefits of students beginning school in a healthy and safe environment.
L September 02, 2011 at 01:42 PM
By chance did you drive down Arrowhead?? Did you even enter the other side of town?
L September 02, 2011 at 01:44 PM
As of last night, the tree in Arrowhead is still there! This community has been forgotten in this whole mess...the tree is sitting on a wire. A danger to anyone living around it.

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