CL&P Blames The Weatherman

Business decisions are made every day. You hope the corners cut in non-essential businesses aren’t cut in hospitals and airlines and power companies.

You hope.

I’m following Dave Altimari’s coverage of the post-storm power problems on Dave writes for the Courant which is the same company and newsroom as CTNow and FoxCT. In stories that ran last night and continue today Dave lays out the case CL&P’s prior actions might be the reason so few out-of-town contractors have chosen to come to Connecticut. That’s one reason it will take so long to reestablish power. These problems existed for the Hurricane Irene cleanup too.

Dave quotes CL&P’s CEO Jeffrey Butler,

“But I will assure you, when we had the weather forecast and everything we looked at in preparation for this storm, the amount of snow, which ended up being the problem, was far more significant than what had been forecast,” he said.

“This event as it came in Saturday started earlier and lasted longer, with more snow accumulation — and remember, all the trees still had their foliage on them,” Bulter said.

Excuse me? Here’s what I wrote last Thursday before our minor snow.

Most of tonight’s flakes will melt on contact. What percentage? Who knows. Significant numbers, sure. It’s tough to accurately quantify. With a few higher elevation exceptions tonight will be a minor nuisance and not much more.

Saturday is a different story entirely. The NAM, which has been the snow monger for tonight’s system is stingy Saturday. In fact it puts no snow over Connecticut!

The European, remarkably accurate during much of the hurricane season, the UKMET and GFS all bring a major Nor’easter through on Saturday. We’re talking plowable snow and a howling wind.

The problem is Connecticut’s trees are full of leaves. A storm like this has the potential to cause nearly as much limb and power trouble as Irene… with snow on top!

I’m not yet saying it’s going to happen–just that it might. There’s a significant chance. I’ll have to work that into the forecast.

It’s the weather. I wasn’t 100% sure. Still there was a significant chance for trouble and as you see I laid out what actually happened. I wasn’t alone. Every forecaster had the same concerns.

Business decisions are made every day. You hope the corners cut in non-essential businesses aren’t cut in hospitals and airlines and power companies.

You hope.

14 thoughts on “CL&P Blames The Weatherman”

  1. Northeast Utilities (parent company of CL&P AND PSNH here in New Hampshire) has ALWAYS played the “deflect the blame” game. To blame WEATHER FORECASTERS for the insufficient response in restoring power is the height of hipocrisy and irresponsibility. If they dare try to pass these costs to the consumers again, they should be prepared for serious backlash.

  2. The problem is that CL&P used to have 3 times as many full time crew for half as many customers. They used to regularly trim trees that were obviously potential problems. They no longer do that preventative work, and have even suggested (after Irene) that CT taxpayers should be paying state employees to do that maintenance for them. CL&P is 100% focused on pleasing wall street stockholders by running so lean that they are defenseless in any emergency, much less a big one. If they hadn’t stopped tree maintenance 10 years ago, the problem would have been much smaller regardless of leaves on trees or anything else. 10 years ago, this “disaster” would have been mostly a memory by day 4. When surrounding states de-regulated, they included strong language mandating certain staffing levels be maintained. Those other states are in much better shape today than we are. Warning CL&P in advance of this storm didn’t matter, because they long ago stopped preparing. A one month warning would have made little difference in how they handled it. It will happen again. Maybe a February ice storm? Place your bets!

    1. Well said. You hit the nail right on the head. Shareholder profits must continue to rise. This is the new normal, get used to it.

  3. When I heard Butler say that I immediately called BS! Everyone I listened to concerning the weather forecast stressed that there was going to be widespread tree damage. If CL&P listened to chicken little Henry Margusity from Accuweather they would have know what was going to happen. Henry nailed his prediction of severe tree damage and widespread lengthy power outages. Blaming the weather for not being prepared is disingenuous on CL&P’s part.

  4. To quote the Winter Storm Warning issued at 8:55 pm Friday (the day before the storm):


    The meteorologists were on the ball. CL&P wasn’t listening.

  5. Personally i think everyone needs to stop the serious CYA and blaming and just get the dang job done. It is weather. It is CT we have bad weather and god forbid we should be without in our spoiled lives. All the weather people said Be ready for a possible week without power! Is it cold yes is it uncomfortable yes. When we were kids and this happened and it did often. The entire neighborhood would pile together and make it work. No one is to blame people. It is a storm in NE if you do not like this fa tor of life here i understand there are building plots for sale in new orleans!

  6. I saw FoxCT’s coverage of this guy last night at 11. He’s an idiot. My favorite part of the press conference coverage was when a reporter was getting angry with him because he knew exactly how many crews were out working but not how many houses got power restored. I’m glad (for now) I’m under the UI umbrella.

  7. While I feel terrible for the people who are living through this I do have to say that I personally know people who work for CL&P and can say on numerous occasions the crews have attempted to trim trees and people get all up in arms about “their trees”.

    Now that some of these same trees are the cause for these same people being without power, it has now become CL&P’s fault for not doing their job! I know it’s not the entire problem and it is incredible inconvenient and uncomfortable to live with no electricity, water or heat, but the crews are doing the best they can – working 16 hour shifts and going home to their own homes that have no power, sleeping for a few hours and retuning back to work another 16 hour shift – and they have no choice but to do it!

    The blame needs to be passed around to everyone…we are all part of this….but the smarter thing to do would be to find solutions and stop blaming. Blaming seems to be so much easier for everyone. Let’s talk solutions.

    1. Suzanne, there aren’t enough CL&P crews left! They have dwindled and haven’t been replaced. I can’t tell you the last time a CL&P crew came to trim our trees–which we’ve always appreciated. But this was a freak fall snowstorm and the tree trimming wouldn’t have even helped my neighbor when my very healthy tree crashed through his roof!!!!~~ I’m not willing to agree with you passing the blame to everyone. The CL&P crews are working 16 hour shifts and “doing the best they can”, but they are also being paid and collecting over-time. My husband, sons and daughter in law are all volunteer firefighters and work the same long shifts for free…and guess what…THEY have a choice. (Still wanting to place blame on everyone??)

  8. nah suzanne, have the ceo’s pay for the tree trimming. they can afford it.

    Oh and also, no one is getting on the linesmen. Everyone understand the risk they take and how hard they work. 100% CL-p’s fault either way you look at it. Pretty much all the public utilities are back up and running as well as most of UA. Just like Irene, CLP continues to pass the blame and get nothing done. With our insanely high rates maybe they should hire more people in and not rely on bringing people down from fn Canada.

    Yours truly.

  9. Don’t you think that CL & P should have their own meteorologist on staff who can say to them, “hey guys there is a lot of poop coming this way, maybe we should prepare more line crews!!!”

    Everyone is looking to blame someone. No one ever wants to own up to mistakes.

    Sorry about the language.

  10. I would take what you say to the bank, Geoff–BUT even the Weather Channel was keeping an eye on CT they were very careful to mention that CT was in the cross-hairs of this nor’easter. And to illuminate that further they stationed Paul Goodloe in Hartford to report on the scene. And to Suzanne’s point about CL&P having its own meteorologist it would be a very expensive proposition for its customers. And who needs another meteorologist when we have Geoff Fox???!!!!!

    1. I suspect CL&P, UI, Yankee Gas, etc. employ industrial meteorologists. They’re probably not on-staff as fulltime employees, but meteo firms like AccuWeather or Fleet Weather. These utilities have concerns that go beyond what our daily forecasts provide. Remember, they often have to order fuel for generating well in advance of need.

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