Hartford, CT – Connecticut Utility Chief Resgins After Delays in Restoring Power

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    Jeffrey Butler, CEO CL&PHartford, CT – Jeffrey D. Butler, who was the beleaguered face of Connecticut’s biggest utility as it struggled for more than 10 days to restore power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses after a late-October snowstorm, resigned under pressure Thursday.

    Butler was the president of Connecticut Light and Power, which incurred the wrath of the state’s residents and elected officials for its slow response to the storm that swept up the East Coast on Oct. 29. Charles W. Shivery, the chief executive of the utility’s parent company, Northeast Utilities, said he had “reluctantly accepted Jeff’s resignation.”

    But state officials did not seem upset to see Butler go. Roy Occhiogrosso, a senior adviser to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, said in a statement that the governor had “made it clear that he thought Northeast Utilities needed to address CL&P’s management issues, and it’s clear that process has begun.”

    Occhiogrosso said he expected other changes at the utility “as a result of CL&P’s performance in the lead-up to and aftermath of the storm.”

    A panel that Malloy convened has begun a review of the company’s preparation for the storm and its reaction to the near-blackout in much of the state caused by trees and branches falling on power lines. That panel had just begun to analyze Connecticut Light and Power’s response to Tropical Storm Irene in late August, which also left hundreds of thousands of the company’s customers without power for several days.

    After utilities in neighboring states restored power faster after both of those storms, Connecticut officials began questioning whether the company was properly managed. For some, the breaking point came when the company failed to come close to meeting a self-imposed deadline for having power back on for 99 percent of its customers.

    Officials of Connecticut Light and Power said the company had planned to make several changes to address critics, but the replacement of Butler, who joined the utility in 2009, was not one of them.

    “The fact that Jeff Butler offered his resignation became another piece of looking at how we move forward,” said Marie van Luling, a spokeswoman for the company.

    Van Luling said that James A. Muntz, the president of Northeast Utilities’ transmission business, would succeed Butler on an interim basis while the company sought a permanent replacement.

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    2 COMMENTS

    1. There are many electric utility executives throughout the USA, who should also tender their resignations, for slow responses in restoring power. The vast majority of the telephone network throughout the USA consists of buried cable, underground. Hence, one never hears of telephone service going out during storms. Yet, for over a century, the electric companies have known that snowstorms, hurricanes, tornados, and severe thunderstorms will disrupt electric power. However, for over 100 years, these overpaid executives have done nothing to execute plans to have the electric power lines buried underground, in the same manner that the telephone companies have done. Also, it is a known fact that repair crews don’t rush to fix downed power lines. The longer they take, the more overtime they will receive in restoring power. The greatest country on earth can send twelve men to the moon and back safely, but cannot restore electrical power, within a reasonable time, following storms! Following the 1965 blackout in the northeast, the public was assured by the same electric executives, that it would never happen again; yet, it did happen again, on an even larger scale in 2003!

    2. He wanted to resign earlier but had no power to send out the email. But I’m sure there will be a nice golden parachute for him. I agree with comment #1. The electrical power system in the US makes us look like a banana republic.

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