LIPA And CL&P: Where Have I Heard These Excuses Before

It was early November 2011 and Connecticut was fuming.

“The closer we got to CL&P’s self-identified goal of 99% restoration in each city and town by midnight tonight, the more skeptical I became of their ability to meet that goal,” said Gov. Malloy. “It’s now clear they are not going to meet their goal.” – Press Release

You remember: Two storms, Irene and the Halloween Snowstorm had shown dependability not to be a top priority for Connecticut’s largest power company, CL&P.

Flash forward to November 2012. Now the scene is Long Island and CL&P’s evil twin LIPA is being examined.

From the New York Daily News:

“We paid them and we gave them a franchise because they represented themselves as expert in doing this,” [Governor Andrew] Cuomo said. “They failed.”

You can close your eyes and hear Governor Malloy say those same words, can’t you?

Granted, Long Island’s brush with Hurricane Sandy was more severe than our run-ins with Irene and the early snow, still there are haunting similarities. Again, from the Daily News:

By LIPA’s own assessment, the tree-trim program “doesn’t meet” expectations. In fact, LIPA fell short of its planned tree-trim work in six of the first nine months of this year.

A LIPA rep did not have an immediate comment.

When cutting corners leads to larger profits and management bonuses, corners will be cut! If insufficient tree trimming is an every 15 or 20 year problem and you’re only the CEO for 5 or 10 years the risk seems worthwhile… for you, not your customers.

This is a failure of business and government. The experts in charge didn’t do what they should have done. The regulators let them get away with it. Regulators are supposed to be our backstop.

Is this problem endemic to America’s power grid? I hope not, but I have no reassurance it isn’t and I’m not particularly optimistic.