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Is CL&P Really Candle, Light & Propane?

Amid the gallows humor following the Halloween storm debacle, area legislators push for special session to deal with improving emergency response statewide.

DID YOU HEAR THE ONE ABOUT?

Candle, Light & Propane. Connecticut, Light & Plunder. The wisecracks switched on almost as soon as the lights went out.

And while the play on words are getting laughs in some quarters, many legislators are sick of the joke. Instead they want a special session to tackle the aftermath of . Many are using the success of the jobs special session to make their point.

“The special legislative session on Oct. 26 demonstrated that General Assembly members from both sides of the aisle could work together quickly to produce a bipartisan jobs bill. There is no reason that we can’t move just as quickly to improve emergency response, something that affects everyone,” said House District. “The alternative is further extreme inconvenience and increasing health and safety risks for our state’s residents, as well as significant loss of revenue for many small businesses.”

The lawmakers said they believe it's a bipartisan issue. Among their suggestions for legislation include requiring utilities to train and maintain emergency “stand-by crews’’ comprised of first responder personnel, retired utility workers and local responders such as firefighters.

Other ideas include requiring mutual aid agreements to specify strict timelines with other utilities and states and increasing the use of fuel cells in Connecticut to provide more electricity that is “off the grid.’’

These legislators also want to see benchmarks for power restoration and fines on utilities that fail to meet restoration goals.

“I think the past two months of power outages have taught us a number of lessons and given us the opportunity to discuss the reliability of our power,” said . “Certainly, how we maintain our trees in a proactive way can help, but also beginning the process and planning of burying power lines along some corridors could be helpful.”

Hear, hear, agreed state Rep. John Shaban, a Republican representing Easton, Weston and Redding in the 135th House District.

“Members of this legislature proved through the recent bipartisan jobs package that they can work together in quick fashion, and given that winter is right around the corner this is an issue we must tackle right away,” said Shaban in an email.

Meanwhile plans to host a at the. Pros and cons of underground utility lines will be addressed.

The 2012 session doesn’t officially begin until February. And while the October session saw the passage of jobs related legislation, there are risks to holding extra sessions. Because they usually attract more attention, and because having them signals the issue couldn't wait until the regular session, expectations are higher.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the Legislature will most likely review the events in its own time, said Juliet Manalan, Malloy’s press secretary.

"I think a special session, when we have something to do, is highly appropriate," Malloy said. "When we have a package to put forward, I will be fully supportive of a special or regular session to address it."

PATTERN?

Although one congressional staffer hopes news organizations will forgo general 2012 election stories until say sometime this spring, a few state lawmakers see last Tuesday’s elections as a harbinger for things to come.

“Through and Cristin’s (Vahey) campaign we talked personally to a lot of voters this election season, we heard loud and clear that people still care deeply about jobs and the economy and in particular they want our governments at all levels to get their act together and stop over spending,” Fawcett said. “That being said people of all political backgrounds are rejecting the unreasonableness of Republican national politics. People see through the games and question the true intent. I think the Republicans tide has peaked, could be good news for 2012?”

Yet, in Fairfield County the GOP held on to various seats: , First Selectman in Greenwich, and . And in .

However, in and in

FARMVILLE

"During last week’s monthly commissioner’s meeting Department of Agriculture Commissioner Steven K. Reviczky talked about his legislative priorities for the next session. They include continued support for its existing programs so that they continue to strengthen the viability of agriculture in Connecticut and further fuel to the state's economy, as well the development of any complementary programs that contribute to the same mission." 

“The agency's programs are instrumental in all of the state's eight counties.  Both New Haven and Fairfield Counties have shoreline that is important to the state's shellfish industry, and both have significant farmland acreage in production,” said Linda Piotrowicz, of the Agriculture Department.  “Consumers in both counties are enjoying fresh Connecticut Grown products at farmers' markets, in local restaurants, and in schools participating in DoAG's various programs.”

Craig Zac November 28, 2011 at 01:09 AM
it really does pay to bite the bullet and get a generator. I did, of course i had to use credit card that took me almost a year to pay off but, it was like a god send when i used it during the outtage. I would seriously suggest to do what ever it takes to get one, i know alot of folks cant afford one but, i also bet there are things one can do without to buy one...say, smoking...drinking.. miss one fancy vacation.... maybe take a year off from eating out..
Greg Kuehn November 28, 2011 at 11:21 AM
I thought it was "Cry, Lament, & Pay!"
Bonnie November 28, 2011 at 12:33 PM
We bought a generator back in August just before Irene, yes it was a bit of sanity especially with the kids. We are getting a 10,000 watt and a transfer box installed. If the past 2 mnths are a vision of what the future may bring having CL&P I'll do anything for sanity! It's not costing a lot but will pay off, I'll have a 5500 watt if anyone is interested!
Craig Zac November 28, 2011 at 12:37 PM
I thought i heard that if this does happen you need to report it to the states att. general. They are supposed to refund you $$$ not take it. by the way, Comcast told a neighbor of mine since it wasnt equipment failure on their part, they wouldnt be refunding. What??? seems to me that if your line broke, it would be equipment failure because your line didnt hold up the weight of whatever took it down...lol everyone on comcast should just switch to ATT and to Direct TV. I didnt lose either. of course a wire for the tele. could comedown but, Comcast is evil...
Craig Zac November 28, 2011 at 12:40 PM
Good for you Bonnie. I have an 8500 with a transfer switch... it was great. I basically had power to the whole house but you still need to turn off certain things when not in use...lol we didnt use the stove or dryer and unplugged all our electronics before shutting off or re starting the genny. Computers, tv, fridge.. My boss blew his computer out when he shut down his genny, i guess the power spiked and he didnt have a power strip with a circuit breaker.. at least theats my guess.
Bob November 28, 2011 at 03:14 PM
Now that power is back, when are they going to start tree trimming so that the next storm wont be so bad? I bet that they wont do it, blame the lack of preventative maintenence on the cost, and then when we get the next big storm, complain about the cost of restoring power when tree trimming would have made some of it avoidable. Everyone knows that some preventative maintenance is cheaper then overtime crews from Missouri and reactive behaviour. But, then they would also have less of a reason to raise our rates.
John M. Joy November 28, 2011 at 03:32 PM
Presently there's a tree crew on Riggs Street.
Bonnie November 28, 2011 at 03:34 PM
Oh they did some tree trimming... They did it where the power is underground!!! We have underground and the trucks were around last week... Wasting more money! I'm still driving under branches that are hanging on by a leaf and it makes me really nervous! Craig... Yes we did unplug everything but last storm we didn't have the switch, we were wired through the dryer plug. We also didn't use a lot of things like the microwave nor the stove. We didn't use anything that would draw too much power, we played it smart. Also the genny would be shut down at night, the fridge would stay fine over night when it's not getting opened. Some of our neighbors left theirs going all night, nothing like the sound of running generators all night long!!! I do understand those who needed it but we didn't. As for our 5500, it did fine as we have an inlaw appt where my parents live. I can't imagine not having it! Now that we have directv next time atleast we will have tv too!! Only so many movies you can watch!!! We are getting a great deal on the 10,000 watt, my dad know an electrician who's getting it for us for $1000.00 not including the transfer switch and box!
Greg Kuehn November 28, 2011 at 03:35 PM
Can anyone advise approx. how much it will cost to have a professional electrician install a transfer switch for my portable gen? I have an 8000W gen and it kills me that I'm running extension cords still. I know switches can very in price, but I'm figuring somewhere in the $400-$450 range (?) plus labor. Just wondering if someone has a fair idea of what that cost would be…
Greg Kuehn November 28, 2011 at 03:38 PM
I should add that I'd like to have a 10-circuit throw-over panel installed. I think. :)
John M. Joy November 28, 2011 at 03:47 PM
Are you sure it was the power company's tree crews? Generally they only take care of the ROW with exposed conductors, and only trim those branches that could contact those conductors.
Craig Zac November 28, 2011 at 04:29 PM
Id say to plan on spending somewhere near $1500.00 for all. depending on where and how it is installed. my e-panel is right on the inside wall behind the transfer switch so they just made a hole to go from one into the other. But it was done before I bought the house so I dont know the $$$ it cost. Amazon has alot of different switches on the site you can look at or join a group on line that discusses electricial stuff like wireing and service panels.
Craig Zac November 28, 2011 at 04:34 PM
nice.. id like to get the big propane standby gennies that are all automatic. that would be nice. yeah, we shut ours down at night too, I would just load up the wood stove to capacity before bed and even without the blower on it wasnt too bad... but then, if it were down to zero or below, I dont think it would do much...lol we shut ours off over night cause it was too loud right outside the window. My neighbors werent any concern as they are too far away to really hear it enough to bother them, besides one of them had thiers on all night and while i was inside, I couldnt hear it.
John M. Joy November 28, 2011 at 04:37 PM
The one thing you won't like, though, is the propane bill. During the snowstorm outage, ours was running through roughly 35 gallons a day. (That said, hundred dollar a day juice beats being in the dark.)
Craig Zac November 28, 2011 at 04:50 PM
Wow john, that much for propane? I thought it would be cheaper than that. i thought it could run for a long long time on one of those tanks (like the ones for a whole house propane set up.) ...
Bonnie November 28, 2011 at 05:17 PM
Greg, I'll get you the name of the electrician we are using, he's a friend of my dads through the Ct corvet club. He's an electrician for the town of Prospect as well as a residential and commercial. He's able to order all parts right from the manufacturer so he gets them much less. Our new generator that's on it's way along with the switch and secondary circuit box is approx $1500.00 total for everything including his time to install! I think all of us that are able to run on generators should boycott CL&P one day every two weeks, take ourselves right off the grid!!! I did just see on the news that as of Jan 1st our electric rates are going to drop... About $8.00 a mnth. I'm sure they're going to add to other parts of the bill to recoup the rate decrease! Also, I'm not sure whom was trimming the trees around here, they were in bucket trucks and definatley private contractors. Mostly out of state trucks but trimming trees where the lines are underground???? Really?
John M. Joy November 28, 2011 at 05:52 PM
I know the town has been hiring contractors to cut trees that are a danger, but don't know if any of the contractors they're hiring are from out of state. Private landowners and homeowner associations have also been hiring contractors. The concerns of the town, landowners and the associations are more to do with general liability, as opposed to protecting the power grid.
Greg Kuehn November 28, 2011 at 05:54 PM
Thanks, Bonnie! I appreciate the help. You can email me at greg@gregonweb.com.
Stephanie G November 28, 2011 at 06:37 PM
Bonnie - would you be willing to send along his name to me as well? I'm looking to get some quotes for getting a transfer switch installed and while it sounds like your friend is in-line with what the electrician who we've used in the past, I'd still like to have some other folks come in and look at our setup. I can be reached at StephG72 [at] aol [dot] com. Plus, we have a classic corvette that needs some mechanical work done - maybe he can point us to someone they trust to do the work! Thanks!
Bonnie November 29, 2011 at 01:04 AM
Greg and Stephanie, I emailed you both the info you wanted. Please let me know if you did not get it. My email is tappan.bonnie@yahoo.com If anyone else needs an electrician let me know, the one we use for our home and business is very good and not expensive. He's just a bit busy right now, lots of people called him to put in switches n boxes for their generators as well as repair work due to power surges once the power came back on!!! Wish I was in the tree trimming business or electrical right now! Good luck everybody!
Karen123 November 29, 2011 at 12:39 PM
We had ours installed a month ago and total was $750, which was on the less expensive side compared to other quotes I got.
Rick November 29, 2011 at 12:58 PM
People keep making the mistake of thinking that trees are the problem, and if only CL&P would cut more all would be well. Folks, New York State did a study years ago that demonstrated conclusively that tree maintenance helps only with small, routine outages, like a rotted limb falling now and then, or a minor storm. In catastrophic conditions, trees fall and fly from well beyond the clearance area. No reasonable tree work in advance would have helped. Anybody live in a town that just had CL&P tree cutters at work this year? How'd you make out in the storm? No better than those who haven't seen the chain saws, right? The solution is to have stronger overhead wires and/or underground cables, depending on the population density. But tree maintenance gets charged to ratepayers year by year; infrastructure investment has to be borrowed for and depreciated, so it hurts the bottom line, the stock price, executive compensation.... Guess which CL&P prefers? And guess which state agency that is supposed to regulate them lets them keep saying, as they have been saying since 1985, that trees are the problem and all they have to do is cut more trees? Hint: Its initials recently changed from DPUC to PURA.
Bob November 29, 2011 at 03:29 PM
I agree with you about the stronger wires. However, you said yourself that tree maintenence helps with small storms. So, that goes to say that at least some of the outages from the storm could have been prevented. Since thier would have been less outagaes, the rest of us would have gotten power back sooner. And, if they are charging tax payers yearly, shouldnt they do the tree work yearly? I lost power recently to a tree leaning on wires that I had already called about. If they had done the cutting, I would not have lost power. I know many people and streets like this. As far as I know, CL&P stopped tree trimming 5 years ago, so how would a town have faired better having thier trees trimmed by CL&P since they havent done that recently?
QWERTY November 29, 2011 at 04:18 PM
Underground lines are the only real solution. Unfortunately, the only time anyone cares about implementing this solution is when they don't have power. This country and the public's mentality is reactive, not proactive. Who among us would accept a 2% tax increase if it meant the implementation of an underground lines? I personally would, but I know I'm in the minority.
Rick November 29, 2011 at 04:27 PM
No, CL&P didn't stop trimming. They may have reduced the frequency - from every 4 years to 5, I think - but they're still doing it. And did you know that they're exempt from the state arborist licensing requirement? If you hire a tree service to trim trees in your back yard, they need a license; if CL&P hires a tree service to "trim" trees on the street in front, no license needed. Which may explain some of why they're known to often butcher trees into poor health. And yes, SOME outages are prevented by tree maintenance. But enough to justify the tens of millions of our dollars they spend cutting trees? Better to invest in stronger wires and underground wires and have less tree work to do and fewer storm-related outages. But the regulators have to tell them to do it or we'll keep up the cycle that goes back at least to Gloria in 1985: storm, increased tree cutting, storm, increased tree cutting, storm, increased tree cutting.... After each big outage, CL&P tells the state they can do better if they cut more trees. They do so - at our expense - and it doesn't help that much, because tree cutting can never help much with big storms. And so it goes, because that's best for the company's shareholders and for executive compensation - for them it's better to spend perpetually on maintenance with chain saws than to invest in improved infrastructure. Follow the money.
Wolfe November 29, 2011 at 09:06 PM
g----We don't hold the government responsible for what a private company does. CL&P is a private company. It has a contract with the state to provide power to certain regions of the state. But not one state legislator is responsible for our being without power as long as we were. That onus belongs solely to CL&P.
John M. Joy November 29, 2011 at 09:34 PM
Oh, yes we do, when they (the DPUC) are supposed to be providing supervision.
Gordon Markiewicz November 29, 2011 at 10:44 PM
"It was brutally cold." Give me a break! We went a week without power or generator, and the temperature in the house never got lower than 51. That's not "brutal." The pipes did not freeze. It was not February. It's amazing how people exaggerate when they are frustrated.
Christine E. November 29, 2011 at 10:57 PM
Gordon, I agree. We also did not have a generator and our thermostat never fell below 55 in the house. While it's colder than we would have liked it, it was certainly not brutal by any means.
Bonnie November 29, 2011 at 11:51 PM
I agree with underground lines, there would be a decrease in many issues with wires and poles. My wires are underground but up at the top of our street is not, we had power in the last storm until CL&P turned us off. They didn't want any live lines because of the repairs that were being made. That would've been fine, I wouldn't have had any issues with that IF they were actually working to restore the power around here. There wasn't a repair crew around for the first 4 days, it really doesn't make sense to me but maybe I'm a bit confused...... I would be more than happy to chip in on my taxes or utility bill so EVERYONE could have underground lines. I know I was a bit frustrated being without power for so long, I'm assuming that I was feeling that way because I've lived all my life with power and when you're without for so long you start to get cabin fever! It's the same to my kids when I try to tell them that we didn't have computers, cell phones, video games, color tv etc etc when I was growing up. They can't comprehend what my life was as a kid!!! I survived, I guess we all will as well during the next power outage!

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