Monday, October 31, 2011

Updates on restoration of electric power after the snowstorm

I hope you and your family are OK after the severe autumn snowstorm that created record power outages. I have been in communication with CL&P regarding restoration of electricity and I have been working to keep people informed on the progress, and other important information, as best as I can.

Even though I have mostly been using other means than the internet as the way to get the word out (since people without power are less likely to be online) there are people using smartphones, etc. to access the internet, so I am posting the information I am receiving about the power restoration progress in New Britain and other news.

Update as of Tuesday afternoon (November 1st):
Information I have received is that transmission lines and power substations bringing power to New Britain should be restored by 8 pm tonight. That may restore some people's power, but, of course, the lines down on the streets still need to be repaired to restore everybody's electricity. Also, the information I have received is that we will get New Britain's service restoration estimate from CL&P by tomorrow morning.

Here is the update as of Monday night (October 31st):
I asked CL&P about the fact that people in New Britain are reporting to me that they do not see repair crews in New Britain. CL&P said their crews have been working on the high tension transmission lines and the power substations. Fixing those will restore some people's power. I am told that that they will be starting to fix the lines on the streets soon. They also tell me that, starting tomorrow and over the next few days, 1,500 repair crews will be in Connecticut to fix lines and restore power. I will post other news as I get it.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Information from Gov. Malloy on how to apply for federal disaster relief.

Here is information from Gov. Malloy on federal storm Irene disaster relief:
(HARTFORD, CT) - After receiving notification of the federal assistance available to cities and towns, businesses, individuals, and non-profits, Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced that residents who suffered damage as a result of Hurricane Irene must register with FEMA, by phone or online to access that aid.
"This declaration will bring much-needed financial assistance to residents that were impacted by Hurricane Irene," said Governor Malloy.  "But it is critical to note that you must register with FEMA to begin the process of accessing possible federal assistance".
It is important to note that residents who have already provided damage information to their towns, FEMA, state officials or 2-1-1 must still register with FEMA at this juncture.
To register by phone, residents can call: 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).  The TTY line for people with speech or hearing disabilities is 1-800-462-7585.  The line is open from 7 am to 10 pm, 7 days per week.
To register online, applications may be completed at
If residents have disaster assistance questions, they may call the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-3362.
Twitter: @GovMalloyOffice
Facebook: Office of Governor Dannel P. Malloy

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Working to fix up and clean up after the storm.

I have been around New Britain, and there are many homes in the that are without power and, of course, there are fallen trees around New Britain and flooding.
This is a tree that fell across Kensington Ave., closing the road, which has since been cleared.

Again, please let me know (225-1575 or if there are any problems you are experiencing that I can work to address.

In the meantime, here is an update from CL&P, sent to legislators, that I would like to pass on, regarding the efforts to restore power:
With the remnants of Hurricane Irene leaving  Connecticut, about 800 CL&P and contractor line and tree crews from as far away as Florida, Ohio and Michigan are now being deployed to start the restoration process.   At the peak, the storm left more than 622,000 CL&P customers without power.  This sets a record, surpassing the 477,000 CL&P customers who lost power from Hurricane Gloria in 1985.  UI has approximately 144,000 customers without power

“In preparing for this hurricane, we were able to more than double the size of our workforce, said Jeff Butler, CL&P president and chief operating officer.  “Now that it is safe for our crews to be out, we’re able to mobilize all of our available resources.  At the same time, we continue trying to get additional crews to expedite our efforts.”

Crews will be responding to priority calls and cutting the power to downed lines to make areas safe.  Restoring power to critical customers such as hospitals, police and fire departments will be a top priority.  We will also be working closely with town public works crews to clear roads for emergency vehicles and so our crews can assess the damage and begin making repairs.  

Later this evening, we will adjust our work schedules to ensure restoration efforts continue around the clock with a majority of our workforce working during daylight hours.  

“The damage from this storm was unprecedented and the restoration process may take a week or longer in some areas,” said Butler.  “We ask for and appreciate the understanding and patience of our customers during this difficult process.”

In the meantime, CL&P is reminding customers to: 
·        Stay at least 10 feet away from all wires! Assume any downed, hanging or burning power lines are live and dangerous. If a power line falls on your vehicle while you’re inside, stay there.  Don’t touch anything outside the vehicle and wait for emergency crews.  Call 9-1-1 immediately with any emergency condition.  
·        To report outages or check the status of an outage, visit or call 800-286-2000.  Our automated phone and online systems can rapidly process your report and help us speed restoration efforts.   
·        Check your generator. Make sure it has been properly installed by a licensed electrician.  Improperly installed generators can feed electricity back into power lines and pose a deadly situation for line and emergency restoration workers.  Always operate generators outdoors to avoid carbon monoxide hazards.

CL&P is also reminding customers they can report outages or check the status of an outage by using our website - - or by calling 800-286-2000.  You can also get updates on outages in your town by texting “outage” and your zip code to 24612.

Follow us on Twitter.
For helpful tips and news updates, follow us on Twitter
 @CTLightandPower. You can also get updates on outages in your town by texting “outage” and your zip code to 24612. 

Update Aug 28th, 7:10 from the State Emergency Operations Center (except):
At 7:00 PM the center of Tropical Storm Irene was located near 44.0 North 72.0 West (Northern New England).  Irene has maximum sustained winds of 50 MPH and is moving to the North Northeast at 26 MPH.  
A new record for power line damage has been set by Irene with a total of approximately 750,000 outages.  Irene also caused moderate to major coastal and riverine flooding. 
Strong winds in the wake of Irene are occurring this evening as the storm pulls away and pulls down dryer air from the Northwest.  Winds are shifting to the West and gusting as high as 50 MPH at times.  These winds will likely result in some additional damage to trees and powerlines and towns should take precautions to prevent injuries.  
Very heavy rainfall has occurred with Irene and several rivers are well over flood stage in Western CT.  In addition tidal flooding has resulting in significant coastal damage.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Preparations recommended as Hurricane Irene heads for Connecticut.

I was just with Governor Malloy at the State Emergency Operations Center (EOC), and I want to pass on that Connecticut residents should take Hurricane Irene very seriously. While hurricanes are difficult to predict, and we certainly hope that the worst of this storm will miss us, the present predicted storm track would take Hurricane Irene directly through Connecticut.

I strongly recommend that residents pay close attention to information from state and local officials about precautions and preparation for and during the storm. The Governor has created a state website - - to let you know important information. Of course, information will also be made available through state and local news.

The Governor has recommended, as of now, that residents finish your storm preparations and be in the safe place you plan to be during the storm by midnight tomorrow (Saturday, August 27th). He said the recommended time might change, depending on the updated predictions for the storm as it approaches.

The Governor has stated there is a strong possibility that Connecticut will experience, first tropical storm force winds, and then hurricane force winds for a substantial length of time.

The Governor has stated that residents should be prepared that, at locations where any flooding has occurred in the state in the past, there will likely be flooding from this storm, and he also asks residents to be prepared for extensive tree damage.

The Governor asks residents to be prepared for the possibility of power outages that could last, not just hours, but days.

Governor Malloy is coordinating state and local officials to ensure that the state is prepared to address problems caused by the hurricane. Again, while I hope that the worst of this storm does not affect us, there is a growing likelihood that we will experience a direct hurricane strike. I would urge residents of New Britain, Newington and all of our state to take precautions to ensure that you are prepared to keep yourselves and your families safe and well and, in particular, to take heed of the recommendations from state and local officials.

Update Aug 28th, 5pm:
There are many homes in New Britain that are without power and there are fallen trees around the city.
This is a tree that fell across Kensington Ave., closing the road, which has since been cleared.

Again, please let me know if there are any problems you are experiencing that I can work to address.

Update Aug 28th,12noon:
I hope everyone is doing OK. There are power outages and  downed trees all around the city, as well as flooding.

As much damage as there was, thankfully, it does look like the worst of the storm has not come our way. The fact that the storm went just a little westward from where it could have meant both that the center of the storm did not directly cross our area and, more importantly, that it hit so much land to our south that it lost much of its energy before it got to us.

Of course, my thoughts are with the families of the people up the east coast who lost their lives in this storm. I hope you and your family and friends are well. Please let me know if there are any problems you are experiencing that I can work to address.

Here is Gov. Malloy's Aug 27th, 8:30pm storm update:

Here is Gov. Malloy's Aug 27th, 4pm storm update:

Update Aug 27th, 1:42pm from State Emergency Operations Center (excerpt):
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) continues to forecast that Irene will remain a Category I hurricane today and remain a Category I hurricane as the storm moves up the East Coast tonight and into New England tomorrow morning.

Irene is forecast to ... make landfall in the Stamford area around 11:00 AM as a Category I hurricane. The first effects from Irene are still expected to begin this evening with heavier rain and tropical storm force winds moving into Connecticut between 10:00 PM and Midnight. Hurricane force winds are forecast to arrive along the coast at 7:00 AM Sunday morning. Very heavy rain at times (especially in Western Connecticut) is expected to continue from midnight tonight through the passage of the center of Irene around 11:00 AM tomorrow morning and into the mid-afternoon.

River flooding from Irene is forecast to be moderate to major with the more severe flooding on smaller rivers and in urban areas. Major coastal flooding is possible with storm surges of 4 to 7 feet possible in Western Long Island Sound during high tide Sunday morning at 11:00 AM.

Irene is 23 hours from landfall and forecast confidence is high.

Here is Gov. Malloy's Aug 27th, 10am storm update:

Update Aug 26, 2:58pm:

Here is an update I received (2:42pm Aug 26), from Connecticut Light & Power about Hurricane Irene:

August 26, 2011 To:           Connecticut General Assembly
From:          Peg Morton
Subject:  Hurricane Irene – CL&P Preparations
With Hurricane Irene expected to impact Connecticut this weekend, Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P) is implementing its communication and restoration plans to respond to storm issues as quickly and safely as possible.

“We plan for the worst and hope for the best," said Jeff Butler, president and chief operating officer, CL&P. "CL&P has a comprehensive plan to respond to Hurricane Irene-caused problems in Connecticut. We are cancelling vacations and putting all of our people on stand-by. Our parent company, Northeast Utilities is coordinating for us and our sister companies in Massachusetts and New Hampshire to secure both additional line crews and tree crews to expedite restoration.”

“We’re also in close contact with town, state and emergency management officials to make sure all of our efforts are in sync,” said Butler. "Our customers need to be ready too. If current projections hold true, our state will be impacted by the storm this weekend and CL&P customers should prepare for potential power outages that could last a week or more in some areas."

CL&P is also in the process of securing hundreds of additional line crews from Texas, Michigan and Canada.  These crews are expected to arrive in the State on Saturday.

CL&P is encouraging its customers to be proactive and informed.  Here are some tips to help prepare for whatever weather comes our way:

Prepare a "storm kit" and keep it handy.  It should include:

·         Flashlights with spare batteries
·         A battery-operated radio or TV
·         First-aid kit and medications
·         Canned, freeze-dried or dehydrated foods
·         A manual can opener
·         Bottled water
·         Baby or pet supplies (if needed)
·         Important phone numbers

Have a backup plan for life support equipment.  If you have life support equipment, you need a backup plan to cope with storm-related outages. That plan should include:

·         An alternate source of electric power such as a battery backup system, an uninterruptible power supply or a properly installed generator for the life support equipment
·         Emergency telephone numbers (doctor, fire, police and ambulance)
·         A procedure to vacate your home during a prolonged outage
Report your power outage by calling CL&P at 800-286-2000 or 860-947-2000 in the Hartford/Meriden area.  Our automated phone system rapidly processes your report and helps us speed restoration efforts. It also provides restoration estimates as soon as they’re available.

What CL&P Does After a Storm Arrives

Our first priority is the safety of our employees and our customers.  Immediately after a major storm, workers patrol to locate dangerous areas and take steps to make them safe by de-energizing downed wires. 

The next step is to restore power to substations and critical customers.  These customers include police and fire departments, hospitals, water and sewage treatment plants, and nursing homes. 

We keep state, civil and military authorities apprised of conditions, as appropriate, and work with municipal officials to address their particular concerns.  CL&P employs hundreds of crews and will add hundreds of employees from other functions to work on restoration efforts during a severe storm. 

Our line crews  fan out across the affected area (we have a 4,400 square mile service area) on roads which may initially be blocked to cut limbs, remove trees, replace poles, and attach wires and equipment.  

While crews are working in the field, hundreds of CL&P employees are
answering phone calls from customers to collect outage reports, relay orders, and inform the media and customers of what they can expect, based on the latest available information.

Restoration speed depends on the extent and nature of the storm damage
and problems can arise that may delay repair work.  A traffic jam or trees across roads can delay crews from reaching their destination.  The work is dangerous and time-consuming.  While it takes hours to replace a single broken pole before downed wires can be put back in service, CL&P works around the clock until the last customer is restored..

Tips for Home Electric Generators 

Following these guidelines will help protect everyone from possible electric shock or worse.

·         Never use a generator indoors or in an attached garage.  Also, never use a generator in basements, crawl spaces, or other enclosed or partially-enclosed areas, even when they are ventilated.  Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent carbon monoxide build-up.  Locate the unit far from doors, windows, and vents that could allow the carbon monoxide to come indoors, which can be deadly. 

·         Don’t connect the generator directly to your home’s wiring.  Have a qualified electrician connect the generator with a transfer switch so that it is not connected directly to your home wiring.  Generators that are improperly installed can feed electricity back into the power lines connected to your home posing a deadly situationfor electric line workers who may be working in the area.

·         Prevent electrical shock - make sure your generator is properly grounded.  Consult your manufacturer’s manual for correct grounding procedures.

·         Don’t overload the generator.  Prioritize your needs, and do not operate more appliances and equipment than the generator can handle.  A portable electric generator should be used only when necessary, and only to power essential equipment.  Overloading your generator can seriously damage your appliances and electronics.  

·         Read and adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions for safe operation. Don’t cut corners when it comes to safety.  Carefully read and observe all instructions in the owner's manual.  Also, follow state, local, and national fire and electric codes.

Turn off all equipment powered by the generator before shutting down your generator.        

Keep children and pets away from electric generators at all times.

CL&P is also reminding customers they can report outages or check the status of an outage by using our website -  - or by calling  800-286-2000.  You can also get updates on outages in your town by texting “outage” and your zip code to 24612.

Follow us on Twitter.
For helpful tips and news updates, follow us on Twitter @CTLightandPower. You can also get updates on outages in your town by texting “outage” and your zip code to 24612. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Plan for the Future, Part 2: Looking Forward to Jobs, Fairness and a Better Future for Connecticut.

Our nation and state need a strong plan to move forward to a better future, restore prosperity and begin rebuilding an economy in which our middle class grows and prospers rather than shrinks and struggles.

In Part 1 of this article ("A look at the reasons for our current economic and budget mess."), I discussed the fact that it is outsourcing of middle class American jobs to low-wage countries, and the free-trade regime that promotes it, that is responsible for the economic mess we are in and the resulting budget problems for both the federal and state government. And so, if we are to move to a better future, we must begin reversing the damage caused by the the outsourcing away of middle class jobs.

The strongest possible thing that would advance this would be for the federal government to make our nation's trade policies truly fair, so that Americans do not have to accept poverty wages in order to be "competitive" with sweatshops and slave labor abroad.

But I strongly believe that there are strong policies that our state government can undertake to undercut the damage of outsourcing and free trade and to begin rebuilding our middle class economy. Here are plans that I believe would make a real difference:
  1. Ensure that our state and local budgets are spent to support middle class jobs in Connecticut - stopping outsourcing with our taxpayer dollars. This would seem to be a basic thing, yet a surprising amount of what you pay in taxes ends up outsourced to low-wage employment. This has to stop. That is why I proposed legislation to promote jobs in Connecticut that would:
    1. Withdraw Connecticut from the current state policies that voluntary subject our state purchasing to federal free trade agreements and, instead, change our state policies to require the state and municipalities to purchase from Connecticut companies and workers - with an exception allowing purchases from other states that have laws that protect communities, consumers, the environment and workers at a level similar or superior to our state.
    2. In particular, ensure that companies that the state contracts with to provide health care services must employ people in Connecticut for back-office services, like claims processing and customer service. This would mean no more taxpayer funding to redirect customer service calls to low wage workers in another country.
  2. Take this a step further, with an organized plan to create jobs in Connecticut by deeply examining what our state and local governments buy to make sure than anything that can be made here in Connecticut is, if at all possible. This would work by:
    1. Setting up a process to review current state and municipal procurement practices, to identify opportunities for increasing the use of in-state companies to produce goods and services - especially in the manufacturing of goods.
    2. Ensuring sales for these in-state manufacturers and service providers by requiring state agencies and municipalities to purchase from these in-state companies.
    3. Further increasing sales for these in-state companies by requiring vendors doing more than a certain amount of business with state agencies, quasi-public agencies and municipalities to purchase from the in-state manufacturers and service providers.
  3. To help build the new Connecticut manufacturing created under the plan outlined in step #2, above, as well as to help other Connecticut businesses struggling to find the capital to grow and create jobs, our state should redirect all new investments in public pension funds (and eventually all existing investments) to businesses and community banks here in our own state, rather than in Wall Street.
I will say that none of these ideas is currently being received warmly at the State Capitol. It is hard to convince many politicians that that the way things have been working in our economy is the problem that is causing our economic and budget difficulties and that, therefore, we need to be looking to a new and very different way forward.

But while politicians stuck in the status quo may be uncomfortable with the changes I am proposing, in these tough times, these ideas are pretty basic and common sense:
  • Buying from Connecticut companies and workers with our own taxpayer dollars, instead of from China or other low-wage places.
  • Investing in jobs in Connecticut instead of worldwide.
If we do not buy from Connecticut companies and invest our money in Connecticut businesses, what are we saying about our own state economy? That Connecticut-made goods and services are not good enough? That Connecticut businesses are not worth investing in? That our own state economy is a bad investment?

If we are going to start truly turning things around, we need to start believing in our own state enough so that buying from and investing in Connecticut is not just something we do for pride and self-interest, but because we believe that the things our own neighbors in Connecticut make really are the best.

The ideas I have outlined here are certainly not the only strategies that our state can use to leverage our state's purchasing, public policy and investment power rebuild Connecticut's manufacturing base and state economy. We should, and I certainly will, look for other ways to accomplish this. But the ideas here would be a real start.

I sincerely hope that the federal government will change course and move away from free-trade and other policies that allow or even encourage the outsourcing away of middle-class American jobs to low-wage places. But I do not think that we, as the people of our state, can wait for that to happen. Action is needed now to create jobs, rebuild our middle class economy and start to undo the forty years of damage Wall Street has done to the American dream.

I hope, for the good of generations to come, that the other elected officials in our state government will agree.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Plan for the Future, Part 1: A look at the reasons for our current economic and budget mess.

The changes going on in our nation and state have been so rapid and devastating that many people, including most elected officials, are in a mode merely to cope with and get through the immediate problems in front of us. But, especially in our present crisis, those immediate problems are not going to truly get better unless we confront the real reasons for our present crisis and the solutions that are needed to build a better future.

It needs to be said. The real problem is outsourcing. The real reason that our economy is in a shambles and, thus, causing the revenue problems for our federal, state and municipal governments, is that Wall Street and the big corporations they run have been undercutting the paychecks of middle class American families by outsourcing to low-wage places in the world.

Sometimes the harm has come from moving jobs from places like Connecticut to low-wage parts of our own country, but the real damage has come from moving jobs to low-wage parts of the world - places where yearly wages are often less than weekly wages in Connecticut, places of sweatshops and debt traps of company housing and stores. Even minimum wage jobs here pay many times more than the sweatshop wages (or, worse slave-labor) such as in China.

This did not just start in 2008 when the recession began. It has been going since the late 1960s in a four-decade run of Wall Street transferring middle class American manufacturing jobs to countries where they can pay a pittance in wages, and then make a killing in profits by selling those products back here at similar prices to what they were charging when middle-class-wage American workers made them.

Over four decades, more and more industrial jobs and more and more of our nation's manufacturing capacity has been (and still is being, by the way) shipped overseas. When our economy was healthy and sustainable, back in the 1960s and before, a quarter of our economic output was in manufacturing. Now it is closer to ten percent, a number that is far too low for a sustainable economy. (Click here to see my previous article on this, "Why the Wall Street crowd wants to blame you for the recession.")

Wall Street kept Americans from objecting to this by telling us that the old, dirty manufacturing jobs were, for Americans, being replaced by shiny, new, service-sector office jobs, in which Americans were to be the brains of the world economy, with people in places like Asia and South America doing all the hard, factory work. But, this was a snake-oil sales job the whole time. The real truth is the middle class American economy, minus most of our manufacturing sector, has been increasingly propped-up over these past four decades by debt - massive quantities of consumer and public debt, which Wall Street was very glad to extend in order to keep in motion their buy-low-wage-abroad, sell-high-price-here corporate profit machine.

In recent years, this snake-oil salesmanship has been laid bare, as, now, those shiny, office, service sector jobs, too, are being outsourced to low wage countries. Big corporations are figuring out ever more creative ways to outsource abroad for lower wages, so much so that it seem that any job can be outsourced. And this belies the starry-eyed notions that, if only we improve ourselves as Americans, make ourselves better educated, better trained, more productive and invest in better research, that we can create new jobs to replace the ones that were outsourced. The hard truth is that any new jobs that replace the outsourced jobs will likely also be outsourced to low wage countries, too.

The cold, hard truth is that corporate outsourcing for lower wages - and the free trade regime that allows it - has been destroying the American middle class. And, if this process is not put in check, our country will become much, much poorer.

The economic collapse in 2008 was not just a cyclical recession, and it was also not just a mess caused by irresponsibly exotic derivatives trading on Wall Street. What really happened in 2008 was the moment when middle class America could no longer be propped-up by the fictional economy maintained by the nation-sized ponzi scheme of debt and derivatives Wall Street had been running. In its place, Americans were suddenly exposed to what an economy looks like after outsourcing most of its productive base to low-wage countries.

And so over the course of the past two-plus years - in the face of massive layoffs, a jobless "recovery" and general pressure to lower wages, salaries, health coverage and pensions - Americans have been making tough household choices about what parts of their own middle class lives they must cut in order to balance their household budgets. And, in this process, it is becoming painfully evident that the things that they are now forced to do without are leaving them at a lower standard of living.

On top of this, those same people are being asked to accept a further reduction in their standard of living in the form of reduced public services from the government. That is because, when political rhetoric gives way to reality, the truth is that most of the people benefiting from public services are the middle class. And so, when politicians elected on a platform of cutting government actually have to do it, they must propose things like cutting Social Security, Medicare and education because the reality is that things like that are most of what "government spending" is.

All-in-all, the result of this reduced standard of living is that people are angry - and justifiably. Unfortunately, thanks to a corporate-owned media that would rather not tell people the real reasons behind the reduction in Americans' standard of living - outsourcing and free trade - there is a lot of diffuse blaming going on, but very little real plans for how to get us out of this mess and toward a better future.

While a lot of the needed solutions are the responsibility of the federal government - like making our international trade laws fair - I truly believe that there are important things that our state government can do to in order to build a better future.

And that is what Part 2 of this article ("Looking Forward to Jobs, Fairness and a Better Future for Connecticut.") is about.