Stephania Jimenez and Thomas Kienzler
With CL&P's staffing lower than when last year's October snowstorm hit, Senator Richard Blumenthal is urging for the training and hiring of lineworkers. More staff could help power outage response and keep service for consumers this winter, he said.
As we approach the one-year anniversary of the devastating October snowstorm, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) is calling for change at the utility company, Connecticut Light and Power.
"We lost power for about four days," said Tom Oslund.
"I was … living out of my car," said Francesco Barone.
Most Connecticut residents have their war stories of being without power for days — even weeks, after last year’s fall storm.
Senator Blumenthal said that can’t happen again.
"The Halloween snowstorm last year was unexpected, but now, we ought to be prepared," Blumenthal said.
The Democratic lawmaker is calling on CL&P to hire more workers so the power company can quickly restore service after severe weather.
CL&P has fewer linemen on their payroll today than they did last year.
"CL&P needs to increase its staffing so that it can respond reliably to emergencies where power is down—better than it did last October," said Sen. Blumenthal.
"One of the reasons for the intolerable delay in restoring service last year at about this time was that there were inadequate numbers of staff, trained linemen to restore service," added Sen. Blumenthal.
Connecticut residents said the prospect of being without power again is unsettling.
"I think they should hire more people. They can’t have people without power for more than a week [again]," said Lisa West.
"I hope it doesn’t happen again," said Tom Oslund.
Sen. Blumenthal told NBC Connecticut he’ll do what it takes to make sure it won’t.
"I will enlist other senators from the northeast, because all of us are affected by the potential problems in service," said Sen. Blumenthal.
Meantime, CL&P said their hands are tied. They said they have to work out a few issues with their workers’ union, before addressing the staffing issue.
The two local unions that are negotiating a new contract with the power company will hold a rally on Monday.
IBEW Local 420 and 457 said they want to highlight what they call "dangerously low staffing levels" at CL&P.