Connecticut Flag

The mess that is Connecticut: the true role of government

Hit hard by three natural disasters in 3 months folks in Connecticut are starting to get more than just a little irritated with the state’s power company, Connecticut Light and Power. With, at one point, almost 70% of it’s customers without power and with 50% (600,000) still without power 4 days after the latest storm.

A freak wet heavy October snow storm brought down power lines across the state, and on the heals of Hurricane Irene which affected nearly as many,  people have a right to wonder how long must this folly continue before someone figures out there’s a power grid problem here.

Connecticut is a small state, so to put this in perspective imagine 60% of your entire state without power for more than a week. OK? Now the reasons for this are primarily geographic but also cultural. It’s New England, which is heavily forested and people here guard their trees like family members. In many cases power lines run under trees more than a hundred years old, and some older. Residents guard them jelously. Additionally the state runs by “home rule”. Simply put tree cutting is a town’s responsibility.

Thus when a storm like this one runs through the state these old trees fall, taking power lines with them. Trimming trees haven’t been enough. If the state is serious about preventing another power disaster like this one … tree lined streets need to be a thing of the past.

Additionally preparedness is not Connecticut’s forte. In Florida, gas stations on evacuation routes must have backup generators. Here, there are none.Tthat means no power equals no gas, so even if you have a generator, you can’t power it. What’s more, while in states like Florida and the Gulf states people are used to preparing themselves in case of a natural disaster. Not so much here, ironically, in the land of rugged individualism.

Finally there was an issue regarding power crews from other states. Governor Malloy complained that the Edison Power compact did not distribute out of state crews equitably in the Northeast after the storm went through. So while courageous crews from South Carolina, Missouri, North Carolina and West Virginia were on the scene almost immediately … there were not nearly enough given the damage done. The question is why?

Crews will soon be here from Florida and Texas to put the state back together again but it will be all for naught if changes are not made,

  1. The state must mandate that any tree near a power line …any … must come down. Period.
  2. The state must require gas stations on main state roads have back up power as they do in Florida.
  3. Staging must be taken seriously by CL&P no matter how iffy the forecast. Expect the worst.
  4. Finally the Media, as they do in Florida must do a better job of helping residents with preparedness tips, radio and TV with frequent announcements, newspapers with pullout sections complete with preparedness tips, as that do again, in Florida
Just some random thoughts. But if you are wondering what the role of government should be, this might be a good start and a little less time on fattening pensions and providing free internet and phones.
48 replies
  1. crystal4
    crystal4 says:

    The number one priority is to continue the investigation of CL&P.
    During Irene, I got into a discussion with out of state linesmen at a FEMA center. they told me that they were waiting around drinking coffee for 4 hours without orders. They said they had never seen a more inept company..they wanted to get to work!
    Now I am reading that 4 out of state independent contractors contacted by the Courant said that they have not been paid from their work on Irene.
    No wonder they do not want to come here!

  2. Old Biker
    Old Biker says:

    My predictions. Don’t blame me for being right.

    Even after Irene, even after this October snowstorm, and even after the next natural disaster we will have learned nothing, done nothing, and kicked the can another mile or two down the proverbial road. Nothing will change other than some cosmetics. (Turd Polish)

    CL&P will hire another spokesperson or two, send them to advanced spokesman training school, and continue to shovel a higher quality load of manure to the customers and the State of CT. Reminder: They’re first and only obligation is to the shareholders. Everything after that is considered pesky liabilities and costs.

    As soon as the first chainsaw starts, the screeching from the tree huggers will ramp up, and the courts will start issuing injunctions faster than the Fed prints money. The only change I see coming from the State of CT might be some sort of new tax or fee allegedly to pay for “infrastructure improvements” that will just end up getting sucked into the general fund to help pay down debt and to keep pension funds afloat.

    I’m 58 years old and have lived in CT my entire life. I’ve watched the devolution of the state, State Government and believe I’m more than qualified to make these…

  3. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    What?? I can’t believe that Jim V. would advocate mandates from any government. What happened to the local town control with all its historical  stuff, 169 communities all knowing what is best for each one of them? And putting power lines underground? Too expensive, etc. etc.

  4. Anne-EH
    Anne-EH says:

    This recent freak snow storm is a reminder of the NEED to do much more prunning of trees that look like they are getting too close to power lines and to take down those trees that have gone beyond their life span as SOS has done yesterday in that wonderful interview. Thank-you Jim for that interview.

  5. Murphy
    Murphy says:

    Jim’s been replaced by a pod person!! Mandate generators for gas stations?? Fla. has evacuation routes because they always get hit with Hurricanes. Not so here – stay out of private business ! The government and the big gas companies have already tried their best to get rid of independent gas dealers as it already! Take responsibility for yourself, weather forecasts told us it would be wet heavy snow & with leaves on the trees WE KNEW we’d loose power.
    Anyone see the article about Wallingford not having power issues?
    “Wallingford says it never has big power problems. The town has its own electric division and a practically full proof system.  “We have what are called Hendrick’s wires on top of the power lines so that if a tree falls on the power line, the Hendrick’s wire holds up the line and prevents it from being broken, ” said Vinny Cervoni with the Town Council.”
     

  6. easyed
    easyed says:

    My opinion is that there is too much government intervention in energy and public utilities.  It starts at the top with the asinine creation of the Department of Energy, a Gestapo agency that was created by then buffoon president Jimmy Carter.  Then it was a calculated ploy to give government powers to dictate the flow and source of energy, by redistribution in ways to tax fossil fuel providers for the lunacy of subsidizing green or renewable sources. 
    Now, thirty something years later, this sort of agency madness has gotten to the state and local level.  It has gotten to point of restricting utilities companies which gets most of their sources from fossil fuels to properly maintain and upgrade their infrastructure.  Part of this is result of these eco-zealots and their radical agenda to preserve trees, regardless of cost or what may happen in the future.   They have no concept of their consequences; whether intended or unintended.
    A perfect example of this is regulating/deregulating utilities companies.   Partial deregulation doesn’t work.  Both transmission/supply and distribution should be deregulated – not one or other.
    Extreme government incompetence in Connecticut is the other problem.  If…

  7. easyed
    easyed says:

    Con’t from above if not readable.
     If they could not maneuver a plan, or even think ahead 24 hours, then how could it be trusted with more power?  What this disaster unveiled is that the CT Governor is severely incapable of leading.  He caught my attention when saying during the Tropical Storm Irene which hit there, “I will make them (The utilities CEO) available to you,”  it reads like a government in attempt to be fanatical about its control.  These dog and pony press conferences are a joke, especially if these are taking a lot of these CEO’s time, which could be better spent leading and directing their respective power companies through these ordeals. 

  8. Benjamin Less
    Benjamin Less says:

    I have to laugh. This would mean that my neighbor would have to stop planting their yearly christmas tree in their front yard.  They have about 30 now, 8 feet to 120.  Front lawn has no grass, darken shade, moss on their roof top from lack of sun, mold on their clap board exterior of their house but …do they love their pine trees.  Oh the fresh smell of sap.
    LOL

  9. Jim Vicevich
    Jim Vicevich says:

    interesting. let’s take that libertarian argument to the max … fl ok because people must evacuate for hurricanes they have “all the time.? but why is fl ok? i mean if gas stations did so voluntarily they would get the most business, and those that didn’t would suffer. therefore even in fl, it should be voluntary. but it’s not, because the state has a vested interest in the safety of its citizens … thus police, etc … 

    as for the trees … if your trees interfere with my personal safety, or a public right of way … which power lines are part of … the local or state government has a role in establishing ground rules. Not on your property but within in the right of way … which is I believe 10 or 12 feet.

    before you claim libertarianism … my neolibertarians …. learn a little more. 

    • Benjamin Less
      Benjamin Less says:

      Jim, the argument is over civil preparedness, the ability of the individual to defend oneself.  Think victory gardens during WWII, or why clocks were changed to allow civilians to come home and garden in their “victory gardens.”   Think what no electrical  power has taught the Connecticut resident about preparedness?  Think how many actually have learned what a chain saw is used for or an emergency supply of food could do, or jerry cans to activate a newly owned generator or snow blower?  Once you pull the security blanket off the lame and expose the air blowing up their white cuffs in a sterile living environment …they can learn to be a little less lame and be more prepared.  Keep the government out of my taxes over things I can learn to control on my own.

  10. DonnaA
    DonnaA says:

    I like to know what our DOT is supposed to be doing and what we’re paying THEM for?  Having to travel to Berlin for business with my husband two days after the storm,  both sides of Route 384 was lined with dangerous branches sticking out into the passing lane.  Why weren’t the trimmed?
    The next day, I had to travel to Norwich/Waterford area for work, the DOT had one section of the road closed because they we mowing 5 inches of dead grass from the center median.  Couldn’t they have been doing better things with their time like helping out in other parts of the state?  You know, the areas in need?
    I’m with you Jim, start chopping those trees, the democrats ruling this state mandates everything else except what matters most.

       

      

  11. Geno
    Geno says:

    Jim, while I am against govt mandates, some of what you say makes sense.  The biggest problem is the amazing number of whiners in this state (or country for that matter).  People complain that they don’t have power/internet/cable tv/heat/water etc..  Get over it.  I remember the ice storm in the 70’s.  Neighbors and families got together and took care of each other.  Now neighbors b*tch because someone’s running a generator all night.  They want their elected officials to to everything for them.  Set up a shelter and they complain about the accomodations.  Offer them food and they complain about the menu.  Set up charging stations and they expect you to provide the chargers.  They even want you to babysit their IPhones because they don’t feel like waiting around. 
    I’ll take care of myself, thank you.  I’ll even pitch in and help my neighbors if they need it.   If you prefer the govt. take care of all your needs, get out!!  Move to communist/socialist country.

  12. JBS
    JBS says:

    Yo, Jim, you struck a nerve! “Not me trees!” But, you are right, in the most right kind of way. Public safety is of paramount importance. There are still people chilling in their homes five days after the Big Snow. Connecticut Loot and Plunder is working and the crews, from here or another state, are making progress. Their efforts are appreciated.
    It is good to note that at the turn of the 20th century (1900) much of the state was clear cut, agriculture was the norm and remaining forested areas were being consumed to make charcoal for sale. Trees existed as windbreaks, wood lots and production trees (maples, nut and fruit trees). Remaining wooded areas were awaiting cutting. 
    Rugged individualism? I have a wood stove and camping equipment. Prepared people at least had heat via wood, pellet, propane or other fuel. I will be getting a propane heater and kitchen range to continue my ruggedness.
    Arboreal sentimentality is wonderful. I love a good tree. However, when trees become an issue of public safety and my safety, there is no question which will prevail. Cut along right-a-ways and any trees overhanging them.  Cut trees that threaten houses and service lines. Be prepared. Winter hasn’t even…

    • crystal4
      crystal4 says:

      Most of the offending trees lining the roads in my town are “town trees”. I was thinking of 2 neighbors who had huge dead trees on their properties and they has to call the town for years before they were taken down. Another neighbor, after Irene , was willing to pay thousands to take down a town tree in front of her house. The arborist she called said he was not allowed to cut a municiple tree.
      It’s a cunundrum for the town leaders. they are keeping the budget lean and mean to keep property taxes down and any fractional increase in the mill rate will probably result in their being voted out.

      • Lynn
        Lynn says:

        Holy Cow, prepare for the sky to fall! I agree with Crystal.
         
        PS. I hope I didn’t offend anyone with my opening exclamation. I know cows are only holy in the Hindu religion. Personally, I have become agnostic but in times of stress still revert to Christianity.

    • Dimsdale
      Dimsdale says:

      My itty bitty town spent the summer hiring tree crews to trim back all the trees around power lines.  Result?  No trees down on power lines in our town.  Yes, we lost power for half a day due to the trunk line in another town being whacked, but once replaced, we are back in the 21st century.
       
      And yes, I did invest in a generator years back.  With a well, with no power, you have no water either. 

      • Lynn
        Lynn says:

        Dims we have a generator, too and for the same reason. Another trite statement, “An ounce of prevention……

      • Dimsdale
        Dimsdale says:

        It’s like old water mains: there’s never the money to fix them until they burst, then there is plenty of money to go around to fix the (now bigger) problem.

  13. cherwin
    cherwin says:

    I agree Jim. It’s time to clear out the yards lined with trees. People will have to put their trees at a limited distance from power lines and be required to trim anything that goes near a power line.
    I love trees as much as anyone else but there are too many trees and too many power lines in CT. now.
    The power companies need to get their s–t together and start doing a better job. This is completely unacceptable.
    Imagine if we all did our jobs like the power companies are. How about one of them ends up in the ER and the nurses and doctors sat around finishing their coffee before taking care of anyone.
    Come on CL&P get it together and start preparing to do your job and do it well when you know there is a potential for this type of disaster. It is 2011, not 1911.     

  14. cherwin
    cherwin says:

    Reading some of these posts, all I can say is people have their priorities all screwed up. I suspect they haven’t yet experienced real problems in life since they make such a fuss over birdies and trees.
    We are living in a time where idiot murderers are flying planes into buildings and sit around all day long trying to figure out how to obliterate Americans and these people don’t even realize it. They are all wound up in all the fluffy stuff in life.
    I have new for you, the little fluffy stuff in life is being taken away from everyone so if you want to save any piece of America, wake up and get Obama out of the White House and think about what how we can undo some of the destruction he has already created.   

      • Dimsdale
        Dimsdale says:

        And is working hard orchestrating the destruction of our economy.  It doesn’t matter if it is deliberate or the result of ineptitude (and hubris).  The result is the same.
         
        I thought it was a Navy Seal that “took out” OBL?  😉

      • Jeff S
        Jeff S says:

        After contemplating 16 hours over whether to give the order to take OBL out.  Might I add from info obtained from an interrogation performed under the previous Prez, you remember Dr Evil.  If zero was in charge back then, OBL may still be around.

    • Lynn
      Lynn says:

      At the risk of sounding like a Liberal twit, “I feel your pain” Cherwin. I have been known to say “wake up and get Obama out of the White House and think about how we can undo some of the destruction he has already created” or something like it, at least 20 times a day.  However, we are asked to respond to the post above written by OUR GUY Jim V. Therefore, as worthy as your comment is, it does not correspond to this post. If you read the comments below, you will see we get far afield.  There are still other posts where you can vent your frustration with President Obama. I fall into the trap of feeling that I need to comment on every post, but am trying to change. Jim V deserves nothing but our respect.

  15. winnie
    winnie says:

    After surviving (humans, parrots & a couple of other pets) 6 days without power & heat I have something to add to this discussion.
    I’m tired of people saying that those of us who didn’t/still don’t  have power should “stop bitching”.  We in CT pay the highest electric rates in this country.  We are *paying customers* and we do not have a choice in the power company we have.  Along with paying these ridiculous rates, we should be able to have the expectation that the fees we’re charged for line maintenance are actually used for line maintenance.  The past two storms (Irene and now winter storm Alfred) prove that this is not the case.  I remember back in the day when tree crews were out annually cutting back low hanging branches to protect the power lines from damage and potential power loss.  I haven’t seen this done in aaages.  The bottom line is that if CL&P won’t do this willingly (while charging for it) then our state government apparently has to force them to do it.  It’s the cost of doing business and it’s been passed along to the consumer all along whether or not it’s been done.  And then, to add insult to injury, after a catastrophic event, CL&P’s answer is that they’re going to…

    • winnie
      winnie says:

      …raise rates to offset the cost of clean up and repair.  I’m fairly certain that losing power for 6 days gives me the platform to bitch when all CL&P can do is basically say, “We didn’t know it would be this bad”.  C’mon…this is New England.  Assume the worst and be pleasantly surprised when it ain’t as bad as you thought it would be.

  16. essneff
    essneff says:

    Jim, that all knowing self proclaimed “expert” defending CL&P  who called you today from 11:25 – 11:45 totally missed your point….. namely, that CL&P senior management blew the opportunity to jump ahead of the potential situation by getting the resources ready 2 days before the storm.  By Thursday of last week, every weather forecaster was warning of the potenital damage to power lines due to the already drenched soil, plus the fact that trees would be weighted down with with leaves and wet snow. Prudent planning may have shaved  2 days off the misery of many residents still without power.    

  17. Linda Mae
    Linda Mae says:

    I’m not too happy either.  One tree branch – about 30 feet from the power line across the road – fell and the road is blocked.  One pole snapped off and the transformer is still dangling.  One pole was repaired – it was leaning towards someone’s house.  If you drive around our 4.10th of a mile circle, you will go under at least 4 sets of downed wired.  Don’t know if they are cable or electric.  Plus all of those branches.  We won’t get power soon.  The go from the many to the few and we are only a few in our neighborhood.  Such is life.  Love the area otherwise. 
    Jim – are you advocating a cutting program that would cut down any tree 50 feet on each side of a wire?  That is what needs to be done if you want to escape fallen branches or uprooted trees falling on wires. 
    I did hear Mary complain about Simsbury.  I would have asked her if her DPW had finished cutting the broken limbs and removing them from all streets in Simsbury?  That is how local governments should be able to help CL&P.  I think it’ll take Simsbury at least 2 – 3 weeks to clear away the fallen trees. Then CL&P can attend to the broken poles and fallen wires.  When I consider the amount of damage in only our 4/10 of a mile circle,…

  18. JBS
    JBS says:

    CL&P (Connecticut Loot and Plunder) should embrace the Seven Ps preparedness strategy:
    Proper Prior Planning Prevents P___ Poor Performance

  19. mynoc3
    mynoc3 says:

    I disagree with forcing gas stations to buy and maintain generators.  The roads are not being used to leave the state (like FL), only as a place to get gas.  People have local shelters in their towns they can get too and stay.  As for CL&P, I think they should have been a little better prepared, but aren’t these plans approved by a regulatory commission?  Shouldn’t they have said something?  Another thing is this really was a lot of destruction.  Even where I live in MA, utility companies are still working on repairs.  I don’t know what else could have been done to bring power back quicker.

  20. Deep River Doug
    Deep River Doug says:

    Given all the noise and furor over the storm and tree trimming I think you would find it interesting to review DPU document DOCKET NO. 09-12-05 APPLICATION OF THE CONNECTICUT LIGHT & POWER COMPANY TO AMEND ITS RATE SCHEDULES. Especially page 36 which states: The Department believes an additional $9.7 million increase in the tree trimming budget in year 1 and sustaining $6.7 million of this increase in the following 3 years is too expensive under today’s economy to move to a four-year tree-trimming cycle during the two-year rate plan.

    Bottom line the company wanted to expand its tree trimming but the DPU disallowed the expense. Once again the political class is ignoring its own culpability for the damage incurred.

    • Benjamin Less
      Benjamin Less says:

      Read that DPU document docket Deep River Doug.  Thanks.  What’s interesting about this debacle on culpability are costs.  I would consider this argument if CL&P was a medium to low cost consumer utility here in Connecticut, but …the fact remains CT is paying the highest prices in the country on electricity.  It’s one thing for a utility company to address a problem [re: tree branch obstruction] but another when they’re just tacking on more inflated monthly costs to an already super high rate.  CL&P should be incorporating these services already for the amount of dollars residents in CT are “already” paying.
      Think of it this way.  You buy a Rolls Royce and you expect to see the Spirit of Ecstasy hood ordainment when the product is delivered.  But you don’t.  You’re missing tires and window glass too, perhaps even the chauffeur with his brit accent.  All in hidden extras. 

  21. KrisTr
    KrisTr says:

    How about if we join the 20th century, one step at a time 21st will come next, and put our power lines in the ground? It comes with a cost but it will keep our lights on 99% of the time even during worst weather. I grew up in Poland and don’t remember ever loosing power for more then few hours. And Poland’s standard of living is much lower then here in Connecticut. It is worth thinking about it. Our small towns would look much better without those ugly poles that even during best conditions look like they are gonna snap under their own weight and the only reason they are still standing is because they are tied (by power lines) to other poles.

  22. durhamite
    durhamite says:

    One of the very few times I’ve disagreed with Jim over the several years I’ve been a fan was after Irene, when he was down on those complaining about CL&P.  Most of the outages were in the southern part of the state.  Now that the northern part of the state was hardest hit, he seems to have changed his tune a bit.  My family pays more than $5,000 to CL&P a year, unfortunately, because we have electric heat (and that’s with supplementing our heating with a wood stove through most of the winter and keeping our bedrooms at about 62).  Every year they go for rate increases, but have NOT invested in the state infrastructure.  Just about everyone knows a very hard working lineman, and has nothing against them.  It is the management of CL&P that needs to be scrutinized.  My husband and brothers drove around Meriden, Middletown, Middlefield, and Durham, without spotting a utility truck for the first 2 days after both of the recent storms.  Something isn’t right!  Especially when Wallingford, with the same impact from the storm as Durham, was 100% up and running by the Monday after the storm, because they have their own utility company!!  An investigation into CL&P is needed and it should include a comparison of…

  23. rickyrock
    rickyrock says:

    This is a perfect example of profit over people …profit over people ..People have died as the result of the sheer negligence of CL&P..
     I worked in a corporate environment and the mindset of the people I worked for was profit only.Let’s give the corporations more power,less regulation and they’ll  shaft us even more.This nonsense of corporations being magnanimous and creating good paying jobs is a fantasy. When will you guys realize this??

  24. Murphy
    Murphy says:

    Did anyone catch this comment from Malloy?
    “I’m not happy, but I don’t have the power to seize that company,” Malloy said, noting CL&P had fallen short of its goal.
    @#$%@^&^ blankety blank
     

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