Connecticut Light & Power was not prepared for the mass number of power outages the state experienced during the freak snowstorm in late October, according to a report issued on Friday.
Gov. Dannel Malloy said during a news conference about the findings that the company was “woefully under-prepared.”
The storm caused the most outages in the history of CL&P. More than 800,000 CL&P customers lost power at some point during the storm, some for as long as 11 days. However, CL&P’s worst-case scenario was for more than 100,000 outages, but only 10 percent of the total customer base, according to the report released on Friday.
The underestimate had ripple effects and the Witt Associates report makes several recommendations on how to improve how it deals with mass outages.
There are many findings in the 50-page report. (You can review the entire report on this Web site.) Here are some of the highlights:
Recovery efforts were delayed because CL&P did not pre-stage enough resources, the report finds. Witt recommends that the company should develop pre-staging procedures for cases where there is notice.
The town liaison program, which came as a result of storms in March 2010, was not fully developed when the storm happened. The effectiveness varied from town to town.
Communication with customers on restoration status was delayed by as much as 12 hours because the system was not updated until crews returned from their shifts.
Witt also found that CL&P’s parent company, Northeast Utilities, did not provide executive leadership during the restoration effort and instead left it up to one person to oversee restoration, be the contact for the emergency operations center and be the public spokesperson.
Analysts have made several recommendations for improvement, including drills so cities and towns, the state and the power companies can establish policies to deal with mass outages.
“There are several areas of opportunity identified within the report and we have already started addressing some of them. We have named a new senior vice president for emergency preparedness who is meeting with town officials to gather feedback as we focus on the scalability of our resources and communications during restoration. We are quickly working to incorporate this feedback into our emergency response plan," Northeast Utilities Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Charles W. Shivery said in a statement.
The report also calls on the state to improve state planning for outages and play a stronger role in guiding and reviewing municipal plans.
Other recommendations include vegetation management after the storm brought downs trees, which in turn brought down lines and workforce issues.
“Finally, we appreciate Witt Associate’s recognition that ‘there were successes’ in this, ‘the largest restoration effort in CL&P’s history’ and that ‘we should not overlook the millions of actions that were performed well.’ We appreciate their specific recognition of the safety and efficiency of our crews and the timely responses of our customer service representatives. We join Witt in paying tribute to our utility crews and all who contributed to this massive effort,” Shivery said.
More than 50,000 United Illuminating customers also lost power, but the report focused largely on CL&P.