Some Connecticut electric utility customers still waiting to have power restored

Repair crews for Eversource Energy and crews from outside New England are trying hard to restore power to the couple of thousand customers who are still in the dark from Friday’s storm.

That effort takes on a new urgency as Connecticut prepares for a second major storm in less than a week. Weather forecasters are predicting snow totals that range from one-to-four inches in southeastern Connecticut to more than a foot in northwestern Connecticut.

Much of the New Haven area could see between 4 and 8 inches of snow.

Eversource had 2,234 customers without power late Monday afternoon, but spokesman Mitch Gross declined to say when service would be fully restored.

“We’re moving as quickly and safely as we can to get the remaining customers back on while keeping an eye on the forecast,” Gross said.

The company had been saying for most of the weekend that the majority of its customers would have service restored 9 p.m. Sunday. But shortly before the deadline Sunday night, the company still more than 6,800 customers without power.

Gross said about half of the roughly 3,200 customers who were without electricity Monday morning lost their power as a result of problems not associated with the storm.

“Half of the outages were the result of the cars hitting utility poles and the high winds we had on Sunday,” he said.

Eversource crews have replaced more than 550 utility poles and strung more than 100 miles of new overhead lines, Gross said. Work continues around the clock to make the necessary repairs to get every customer back on line.

“These final outages are more complex, take additional time to complete and may require assistance from a private electrician or contractor,” Gross said. “Line workers are going to each of these individual locations to assess what additional equipment or effort may be required to make repairs.”

Count Madison resident Walter Lippmann among those who are frustrated with the utility company. Lippman’s frustration is not about an absence of electricity to his home, but rather the downed power distribution lines that lay across his driveway on Sycamore Lane in Madison.

Lippmann’s home sits on a hill and a utility pole that carries distribution wires from the street to his home is listing noticeably in the driveway.

Lippmann has multiple concerns: The safety of the children is his quiet suburban neighborhood as well as the potential for a fire that could burn down his home, he said.

“I am livid,” Lippmann said in between calls to public officials, state utility regulators and Gov. Dannel Malloy’s office.”I’ve put 26 years of my life and hundreds of thousands of dollars into this place and they’re telling they can’t get out here until Friday.”

Lippmann says he wants Connecticut’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to convene a hearing into Eversource’s restoration efforts.

Lippman is one of five people who filed storm-related complaints about Eversource with PURA, said Michael Coyle, a spokesman with the state regulatory agency. There were no complaints about power restoration effort by The United Illuminating Co., which had just six customers without power as of 5 p.m. Monday.

Gross said the Madison fire marshal and Eversource’s own crews have determined the line lying across Lippmann’s driveway does not present a safety risk.

Madison First Selectman Tom Banisch said while understands Lippmann’s frustrations, he’s convinced that the company is doing everything it can to restore power.

“If they are guilty of anything, I think it’s that their projections (for service restoration) are too optimistic when they should be more realistic,” Banisch said.

He said Eversource has been doing a number of projects to strengthen the utility’s distribution network in Madison, including a total rebuild of a substation off of Bradley Road that was damaged in a previous storm. Eversource has installed temporary equipment to keep the power flowing while the permanent substation is being restored, according to Banisch.

“A lot of people don’t see the work they are doing around town,” he said “But I do because all of their requests come through my office.”