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Connecticut utility will not meet deadline to restore power to 99% of customers

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 6:58 PM EST, Sun November 6, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Utility pushes back its Sunday night deadline
  • NEW: "We have not met our expectations and those we set for all of you"
  • NEW: About 2,100 people spent night in shelters Saturday, governor says
  • The state has launched an investigation into the lingering outages

(CNN) -- Connecticut's largest utility pushed back a self-declared deadline to restore power to 99% of its customers by midnight Sunday, more than a week after a crippling early blizzard.

"We have missed our goal, and for that I apologize to everyone," Jeffrey Butler, the president of Connecticut Light and Power, told reporters Sunday evening in Hartford. He blamed what he called a historic storm for the delay, but admitted, "We have not met our expectations and those we set for all of you."

Butler said 95% to 96% of its customers statewide had power, and the utility expected to reach the 99% target by midnight Monday. But 80,000-plus customers, most of them in the north-central part of the state, still had no electricity Sunday evening.

Temperatures were expected to dip into the low 30s overnight, and about 2,100 state residents spent Saturday night in shelters, Gov. Dannel Malloy said.

CL&P's public image was already battered by the outages that followed Tropical Storm Irene in September -- a double blow Butler called "the two most significant events that have ever hit the state of Connecticut in terms of power loss."

Friday, Malloy announced that he had hired a former Federal Emergency Management Agency chief to review how CL&P and another utility, United Illuminating, dealt with the late-October blizzard that hit the Northeast. Sunday, he told reporters that he had asked state Attorney General George Jepsen's office to join the review, led by Clinton administration FEMA chief James Lee Witt.

Connecticut battles downed power lines

"I'm not prejudging anything, but it's clear that CL&P's response to this storm was inadequate," Malloy said. Jepsen's involvement will help make sure Witt's inquiry "has the access to everything it needs, whether that's people, documents or anything else."

And Jepsen said his office would examine "if there's a basis for damages for the state or for consumers."

Butler said CL&P welcomed the investigation.

"We will work in any way that the state asks us to participate," he said. He defended his company's performance, but acknowledged that "This has been a long, hard week for the customers who have been out of power."

The snowstorm killed at least 22 people around the eastern United States. Eight people were reported to have died in Connecticut, half of them from carbon monoxide poisoning.

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