14 Sep 2014
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Patch Instagram photo by patch
Patch Instagram photo by patch
Patch Instagram photo by patch

Austerity Has its Price - Part Two

What have we learned?

Austerity Has its Price - Part Two

Almost exactly two months ago my Patch column . Among other things, I confirmed what everyone already knew. 

Connecticut Light and Power was badly unprepared for the outages that resulted. But they weren’t alone. There was plenty of blame to go around. For example AT&T phone and Uverse service was from reports I received quite slow to respond.

On the other side, there were good things to say about our experiences with Irene. The efforts of our First Selectman, Newtown Patch and the entire Newtown community were nothing short of extraordinary. 

We received numerous updates as to what was going on, where people could seek shelter and other services available to those needing them, neighbors helping neighbors, strangers helping strangers and of course no end of volunteerism.

So, after two months has anything changed for better or worse?

We all know the answer to that: Yes.

For starters Newtown Patch and the First Selectman Pat Llodra have proven to be formidable forces — pretty much working in tandem. Numerous updates and helpful information coupled with Ms Llodra’s efforts to light a fire under CL&P and generally stay on top of the situation have proven to be extremely helpful and effective. 

Also, in my travels around town I observed more town highway crews at work, many more private tree companies and more AT&T trucks scattered about. In fact, not only were there more of them but despite the complaints from the ever-present malcontents among us, they were there sooner as well. 

On the other side, there were some things that haven’t changed at all. 

One is somewhat understandable. That is the complete absence of information from Charter Communications regarding their status. I know there’s nothing the cable company can do until CL&P has done its work, but how about an occasional status report? 

Maybe phone, TV and internet service is small potatoes compared to electricity but some people actually rely on one or two of those things to do their business. Plus, where were they once power had been restored? Not in my neighborhood.

Good thing for cell towers – that’s all I can say. And Charter wonders why they’re bleeding customers?

And now the best for last — CL&P

They definitely need to do some housekeeping. And I’m not talking about repairing downed power lines. I’m talking about cleaning up some dead wood in the front office.

I did a little research and found out a couple of interesting things. 

The Public Utility Regulatory Authority has a convenient little loophole in its law requiring the disclosure of executive compensation. They only have to report on CL&P’s parent company — not CL&P itself. Northeast Utility Chairman Charles Shivery’s last reported compensation is in excess of $8 million dollars!

However, the compensation of CL&P president Jeff Butler who, at a recent press conference looked about as comfortable as a mouse at a cat convention, is not available to the public. What do you want to bet it’s in seven figures?

I also learned that Connecticut residents pay more for electricity than anyone else in the nation. Given that sad fact, wouldn’t it be logical to expect the best service in the nation?

There’s simply no excuse. They know, or at least should know, what happens when for at least a week you’re being warned about a heavy, wet snow with trees in partial to full foliage that are already in a weakened state!

You don’t need to have a doctorate in meteorology to figure it out.

It’s simply not acceptable. But don’t expect the State of Connecticut Public Utility Regulatory Authority to straighten it out for us.

I’ve had to deal with them on previous occasions and I’ve come to the conclusion that the PURA is a huge waste of taxpayer dollars.

It’s almost as though it thinks its purpose is to look out for the cable companies and utilities — not the tax payer.

Will Connecticut’s ? Who knows? One can only hope.

In the meantime it’s up to us as a town—government, media and citizens--to be there for each other.  In that regard we can stand tall. 

Thank you Mrs. Llodra.  Thank you town employees.  Thank you Newtown Patch.  Thank you scores of volunteers.  Thank you family, friends, neighbors and strangers.  Until the next one!

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