Lawmakers to look at 'weak' response following recent storm - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Lawmakers to look at 'weak' response following recent storm

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Power companies are grilled being grilled by CT lawmakers on October storm at hearing on Wednesday afternoon.  (WFSB) Power companies are grilled being grilled by CT lawmakers on October storm at hearing on Wednesday afternoon. (WFSB)

Lawmakers are looking at potential changes after what some of them referred to as a "weak response" by power crews following the state's most recent wind storm.

Utility companies, specifically Eversource, faced some tough questions from state leaders on Wednesday afternoon after thousands of customers were without power for days at the end of October.

Lawmakers are wondering why it took so long for crews to get the power back on in certain communities.

The damage forced Ledyard to postpone Halloween trick-or-treating.

In Hebron, large trees came down on vehicles, wires were strewn across roads and at one point nearly the entire town was without power.

Some lawmakers said they were disappointed by the response of Eversource, given how much effort was put in to make post-storm restoration more efficient.

"You know we've taken a lot of trees down. We've done a lot of work in and around the power lines to preserve and make them more stable, and yet, here we have a high wind storm and we had all kinds of problems," said Sen. Paul Formica, a Republican on the state energy and technology committee.

"We had our line crews out working around the clock, restoring power, repairing damage," said Tricia Modifica, Eversource spokesperson. "And in some places, especially the southeast corner, the damage was really bad. We, in some locations, had to actually rebuild the system."

Ellington's First Selectwoman Lori Spielman says the town had no power for three days, saying crews arrived at 6 a.m. and took a break 30 minutes later.

"They all went to the Ellington Chuck Wagon, which is in the center of town, for breakfast for over an hour. Now we have all these Eversource trucks parked there and nobody is getting service,” Spielman said.

Eversource handled most of the power outages, 165,000 at the peak of the storm.

The company's Senior Vice President of Emergency Preparedness Peter Clarke told lawmakers winds were the biggest problem, but he said there were also issues with their communication system.

"We had some technical problems with our interactive voice response unit. That’s the machine you get when you call during periods of heavy volume. When we don't have enough live people to answer,” Clarke said.

That meant people were giving information and it wasn't being recorded. Eversource said they worked on that problem and will continue to.

Lawmakers said they want these issues fixed.

"That's something that needs to be delved into because in today's age you should be able to use email or text and find out things are being recorded correctly,” said State Senator Cathy Osten, who sits on the Energy and Technology Committee.

Another hearing is tentatively planned for Nov. 28.

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