Jul 28, 2014

Outages Beg the Question of CL&P's Accountability

The ongoing CL&P fiasco is a further blow to America’s image as a world economic superpower.

Outages Beg the Question of CL&P's Accountability

Growing up in India, power cuts were as common as sneezes.

While holidaying in the summer at my grandmother’s house, I made an amusing sight for others as I discovered new ways to cool myself when the power was off. Imagine a 5-year-old running at breakneck speed from one end of the room to the other yelling “breeze, breeze,” as the air around stirred and hit her face! My grandma would laughingly say that someone like me should be in America, a land where power cuts are as unthinkable as, say, aliens landing. Or so she had heard.

Even today, one of the common comments I hear when I visit family and friends in India is about America’s efficiency in creating and sustaining an advanced infrastructure, something that India is struggling to emulate. But last week’s CL&P fiasco, which left a good majority of the people in the state without power, made the U.S.A. look more like an Indian village. 

More than the downed trees and power lines that blocked access for emergency workers to reach people’s homes, what’s stunning is CL&P’s lackadaisical responses to the media and elected officials. In India, people call it a “chalta hai” attitude, which works like this: No power? Oh well, what can you do? It is what it is.

But since when was accountability not a part of the American story? We’re talking about an economy that was built on the foundations of cutting-edge innovation and business processes. America is not known for tolerating incompetence and entertaining excuses.

In a world where the U.S. is struggling to retain its position as an economic powerhouse, the image of people — especially the elderly — freezing under piles of blankets to stay warm in their houses is incongruous and ridiculous. That people have to do their laundry and take a hot shower at neighbors' homes is simply not the America we should settle for. And all this for nearly 10 full days!

We are known for our ability to anticipate, not just respond. Our technology processes are sophisticated enough to plan for and execute smart solutions during crisis.

Electricity rates in Connecticut are among the highest in the nation. Have the power company’s profits climbed at the expense of its ability to service customers at such times? I don’t think we should rest until we get to the bottom of this.

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