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Following energy issues in the state of Connecticut and beyond.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Some Thoughts While Riding The Storms Out....

Less than a week ago, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy insisted that the state was ready for the hurricane season of 2013.

That was after a quick, but violent, storm on June 17th left 21,000 Connecticut Light & Power customers without power. The press conference at which Malloy insisted Connecticut's utilities were ready was the next afternoon at the state's Emergency Operations Center in Hartford and by that time, the company had the power back on.

“Last night’s storm was really severe,” said William Quinlan, senior vice president for emergency preparedness for the utility. “We can’t prevent every outage.”

Malloy said that both CL&P and The United Illuminating Co. would be judged not only on their ability to keep the lights on, but their ability to restore customers to service quickly when their power goes out.

Okay, fair enough. But perhaps the assembled media - myself included - should have pressed the Governor a little harder on whether the electric companies are prepared to deal with a typical Connecticut summer weather and all the heat, humidity and thunderstorms that come with it.

Okay, now fast forward six days to today.

 Monday was the first day of what is supposed to be a three-day-heatwave. At one point shortly before 8 p.m., more than 6,800 CL&P customers were without power.

 And that was before the worst of the weather that is supposed to hit Connecticut later Monday evening.

A company spokeswoman said the largest outages - in the eastern Connecticut towns of Andover, Columbia, Glastonbury and Hebron  - were all caused by lightning strikes that knocked down tree limbs onto wires.

But if one day of heat, humidity and a few lightening strikes leaves thousands without power, what will two or three days do? Hopefully, Monday was just an aberration.

The last two years have fundamentally changed the way we look at our electric companies. They - particularly the utility workers that have to make the repairs - have a tough job to do. 

 But I honestly believe that utility customers get tired of hearing trees cited as the only reason that Connecticut utility customers lose power so frequently.

Just something to consider as you ponder whether Gov, Malloy made an accurate assessment last week.

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