Lessons of Sandy

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For those paying attention, "/#_generic"> Sandy provided a useful object lesson on the difference between the public and private sectors.

Example: Early on the morning of Tuesday, October 30, barely 12 hours "http://www.lanepl.org/lib//#here">here the storm hit, the historic district in Stratford was teeming with private work crews from as far away as Rhode Island. They wielded chain saws, bucket trucks and wood chippers to clean up the mess — working hard throughout the "http:// /blog click here and, above all, making money.

Meanwhile, the government-regulated monopoly utility was nowhere to be "http://www.ninecakes.com/media/buyonline//#buy_">buy .

Indeed by mid-morning of Saturday, November 3 (as this editorial was being written) they were still nowhere to be found. (Ed. note: Power was restored to this neighborhood on Sunday, November 4.)

Granted, Sandy was a once-in-a-generation event (one hopes). But the long waits for service restoration (United Illuminating finally had 99 percent of its customers back online by November 6; as of press time Connecticut Light & Power had not committed to a time frame for complete or nearly complete restoration).

This is not to pick on our hometown electricity provider — United Illuminating’s parent, UIL Holdings, on November 7 announced a $25,000 donation to the Red Cross for storm relief. But we have seen this movie before — twice before, in fact, over the most recent 14 months. Both Tropical Storm Irene last August and the freak snowstorm of October 29, 2011 (cosmic coincidence?) vividly illustrated both the vulnerability of the power grid to severe weather and the fact that both CL&P and UI are staffed for normal operations, not emergencies.

Since Sandy’s severity was accurately forecast no late than October 27, that utilities found themselves scrambling to find crews from hither and yon after the storm hit strikes us as inadequate preparation.


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