When a historic snowstorm hit Connecticut in 2011, then Gov. Dannel Malloy, who is now chancellor of the University of Maine system, was at the helm. He spoke with NBC Connecticut's Dan Corcoran about the event that a lot of people remember from his time in office.
Dan: "Governor Malloy, thank you so much for joining us tonight. When you look back to October 29, 2011, what's the first thing that comes to your mind?"
Malloy: "It was this one heck of a wild day. I had spoken at a meeting down in Stamford that morning, the snow was not supposed to start till 12 noon, it broke out at 10 a.m. I think by the time I got the car at 11 a.m., with the troopers, we were headed north on the Merritt Parkway, and we could literally see trees coming down behind us. As we were trying to get to Hartford. I can also remember late that night, laying down in my bed for catch up, a little rest and hearing trees in the backyard at the Governor's Residence come down on the property. It was a wild and crazy storm. You know, the reality of it was is I had had one heck of a winter, from the time I got sworn in and January of 11, that that whole spring or that whole winter and spring was quite snowy. And then to have this kind of storm hit in October unprecedented in our history was, was quite the event."
Dan: "The storm itself was devastating. And the fallout was monumental. You expressed a lot of frustration at that time over the response efforts of what was then Connecticut Light & Power, which now of course is Eversource. Take us back to what your conversations with the company were like at that time."
Malloy: "I believe that they were doing everything they could to marshal resources. Obviously, a lot of territory had been impacted by the storm, not just Connecticut. What I became frustrated over was that I felt that they weren't being stretched straight with people as they could I think they were. They were presenting a hopeful message, but not an accurate one. And I was watching what was going on and felt that recovery was going to take longer than anyone had planned. We'd never had a storm like that we'd never seen that kind of heavy snow come for hours and hours and hours at a time take trees down in rows, take polls down in rows. And see it throughout the state from, as I said, from Greenwich to the Rhode Island border to the Massachusetts border. Certainly Western Connecticut as well. It was, it was, a you know, quite an example of what Mother Nature does when we're not taking care of her."
Dan: "It's been 10 years now. And Eversource has gone through a lot of changes, but seeing what we just experienced last year with Tropical Storm Isaias. Do you think our state's power systems are now in a better place?"
Malloy: "Well, you know, Cathy, and I have a place down in (Connecticut), and we lived through that storm, and were without power a couple of days. I don't blame Eversource for that, quite frankly, I think that that was even more of a fluke, then the snowstorm was, quite frankly. All predictions did not propose that we were going to have the kind of storm that we ended up having. Last summer or a year ago this summer. And so I didn't get all excited about that particular one. And I think quite frankly, they played it straight. They told you how long it was going to take people just didn't like how long it was going to take, which I think was a very different reaction than what it played out when we had the October snowstorm."
Dan: "In your view, and knowing what our state went through a decade ago, has PURA, the regulatory authority, and our legislature done enough to hold our utility companies accountable for these storms? What still needs to be done?"
Malloy: "We don't hold ourselves accountable. I mean, how many times do we have to go through storms like this and understand we should do something about climate change? When are we as a nation or even as a state going to fully recognize that this kind of weather is what we're going to deal with for the foreseeable future, quite frankly, for any of our lifetimes? Because even if we got serious about climate change today to straighten out the climate is going to take decades upon decades. And that's only if we do the work. So that's number one. Number two, I, you know, you can pass laws, but nature doesn't follow laws and you can raise people's rates so that you can respond 365 days to the worst possible event, but that's going to cost ratepayers a lot of money and cause a lot of jobs to leave the state, you can have a sustained effort to strengthen the system. And quite frankly, people in Connecticut could get used to the idea that trees are a renewable resource. And when they are putting lines in danger, maybe they need to be trimmed back. Maybe they need to be cut down and replaced with tree trees that don't grow that large or don't grow that tall. But we haven't had a serious conversation in our state about doing that."