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Following energy issues in the state of Connecticut and beyond.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

If It's Wednesday, Tom May Must Be In Connecticut

Five weeks after taking over as the new president and chief executive officer of Northeast Utilities, Thomas May clearly has a steep learning curve.

 Stepping into his new role after the company he headed, Boston-based NStar merged with NU, May (shown at left) has spent much of the past week or so travelling around Connecticut, meeting with the company's employees. On Wednesday, it was May's turn for the first face-to-face meeting with the Connecticut media that until now had only been covering him from afar.

The high-powered chief executive gets bonus points for being a good story teller - he told reporters that "people don't realize I'm a poor kid from the streets of Hartford" - and for showing empathy about how hard workers at NU's Connecticut Light and Power subsidiary worked to restore power during last fall's two crippling storms

. But May wasn't as convincing when it came to selling reporters on the idea that he can keep politicians in Massachusetts and Connecticut happy while maintaining headquarters in Boston and Hartford.

When asked about storm-related legislation that was before Connecticut's General Assembly, May remarked that lawmakers here "are nearing the end of the legislative session." Of course, Connecticut's legislature wrapped up its work for this year on May 9th, passing storm response legislation on the final day.

Anyone can make mistakes and perhaps we should cut May a break for not knowing that lawmakers are done with this year's session.

 But in a business where appearances are almost as important as actual results, May didn't make a good case initially for his ability to serve two masters. After all, in order to keep politicians happy, you've first got to know when they're at work passing legislation that might affect your company.

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