Legislators Hold Hearing On Tropical Storm Irene

Sep 19, 2011

Municipal officials are giving Connecticut utility companies mixed reviews for their power restoration efforts following Tropical Storm Irene. As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, today/yesterday was the first of two legislative hearings on the storm.  They praised the work of the crews.  But mayors and first selectmen repeatedly complained to lawmakers about what they considered to be a lack of communication with Connecticut Light and Power and United Illuminating . Mary Glassman is the First Selectman of Simsbury and President of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities. One of her suggestions was to strengthen real time communication between town leaders, electric line crews, and their counterparts handling downed trees.  "Often we would have a utility crew show up where a tree crew hadn't been there to remove the tree, so instead of deploying utility companies to places where they could restore, they had to wait while we then coordinated the recovery." Brian Sear echoed that concern.  He's the first selectman of Canterbury, where at one point trucks arrived and sat for six hours, only to be sent to another town. Officials from CL&P told legislators that trees remain one of their main concerns -- and not just the ones that run alongside powerlines.  Here's CL&P CEO Jeff Butler. "The real issue I think that has to be address here in the state is what we call the hazard trees. These are trees that are well outside of our trim zone, we would never trim them, but actually pose the greatest hazard to our lines.  They're 50 feet away from our lines, they're 70 feet tall, they fall over and they take out the lines." This was the first of the legislature's hearings on Irene.  The next will be on September 26 -- when the public will be invited to testify.  For WNPR, I'm Jeff Cohen.