Hartford, 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.