Blogs > Power to the People

Following energy issues in the state of Connecticut and beyond.

Friday, August 31, 2012

New And Improved Outage Maps Only As Good As The Information Being Fed To Them

                     Technology is a wonderful thing when it is used to better inform people and make their lives easier.
 It's not clear that the new customer outage map available on United Illuminating's web site did either of those things on Friday. If you were checking out the map at about 7:30 p.m. Friday, you would have seen West Haven as one of several towns listed as having outages.

A view of the 'old' UI outage map
                     And if you cared to examine the map further and get additional information about the outage by running your computer's cursor over West Haven on the map, you would have seen that there were allegedly 52 outages there. I say 'allegedly" because according to the map, the outages began at 1:49 p.m., a repair crew was on its way to the area where the problem was and service was expected to be restored at 2:46 p.m.

                     Almost five hours later, if you were just going by the information on the map alone, it was impossible to tell whether the problem had been fixed or was still active. Outages listed for other towns were clearly still active because they showed power restoration times that hadn't passed already.

 Hopefully this was just a minor glitch that only occurred just this once. But if it wasn't, what good is new technology when it provides users with what was likely old information?

 That's a question the people at UI ought to be asking themselves right now.

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Monday, August 27, 2012

NU Names Midwestern Utility Executive As Jeff Butler's Replacement at CL&P

BREAKING NEWS: After searching for more than 10 months to find a replacement for Jeff Butler, Northeast Utilities has hired a Midwestern utility executive to become president and chief operating officer at Connecticut Light & Power.

William Herdegen III comes to CL&P from Kansas City Power & Light, where he was vice president of transmission and distribution operations. Herdegen began his 35-year-career with a stint of over 20 years at Unicom, which is now known as Exelon.

 “With a focus on operational excellence, customer service, emergency response and employee safety, Bill helped to drive significant improvements for Kansas City Power & Light’s customers,” said Tom May, president and chief executive officer of NU said in a statement. “We know Bill will bring that same level of commitment to Connecticut to ensure the continued delivery of reliable, safe electric service to our customers everyday, especially during storms and other emergencies.”

Butler resigned from CL&P last November in the aftermath of the utility's widely-criticized handling of power restoration following Tropical Storm Irene and the late October snowstorm. Hundreds of thousands of CL&P customers were left in the dark after the storms, some for longer than 10 days.

Herdegen led an initiative to launch improvement to KCP&L’s storm response plan that resulted in that utility being ranked as one of the best in the country by a contractor for the Department of Defense and Homeland Security.

Heredegen will join CL&P on Sept. 11 and will report directly to Lee Olivier, NU’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Call Luther Turmelle at 203-789-5706. Follow him on Twitter @LutherTurmelle

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Union Files Complaint Against CL&P

BREAKING NEWS: Two International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union locals have filed a complaint against Connecticut Light & Power with the National Labor Relations Board.

The complaint, filed by Locals 420 and 457 of the IBEW, contends that CL&P has engaged in coercive bargaining tactics. The union also contends in its complaint that CL&P has interfered with workers right to participate in informational picketing.

The portion of the complaint that relates to information picketing appears to refer to a protest the union's held on July 30th, which culminated with a march on Northeast Utilities' corporate headquarters.

The complaint filed with NLRB comes almost two months after the IBEW's contract with CL&P expired on June 1. Since then, union leaders have called the company's staffing levels inadequate, a condition which IBEW leaders say contributed to CL&P's mishandling of the response to massive statewide power outages in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene and the late October snow storm last year.

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Message To UI: Do Your Job So We Can Do Ours

Saturday's downpours yielded a comparatively small number of power outages when viewed in the context of last year's Tropical Storm Irene and the October snow storm.

But for the 400-plus United Illuminating Co. customers in Milford who were without power Saturday afternoon, though, the inconvenience of not having any electricity was probably pretty annoying.

 The rains were heavy, sure, and caused some minor flooding.  But you'd like to believe UI's electric distribution system was up to the task of handling it.

Instead, by my estimation, some of the utility's Milford customers  were without power for about four hours

I would have liked to have been able to tell you on Saturday, as the outages were occurring, why the power was out for those Milford UI customers and when they might expect it would be restored. However, several calls to UI's after-hours media hot line failed to produce a return call.

This incident may not seem like a big deal in the large scheme of things and to some degree that is true. But let me pose this question to you: If UI officials can't be bothered to respond to a media call when only 400 or so customers are without power, how do you think the company will fare the next time a big storm hits?

It also begs the question that if the media can't get a response to a simple question like this, how well are customers going to fare when they try to get answers themselves?

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