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West Hartford Prepared to Hire Own Contractors if Necessary

Possible contractor delays due to disputes with CL&P from Irene cleanup have infuriated West Hartford Mayor Scott Slifka, who is prepared to have the town hire contractors directly.

Patience with CL&P's efforts to clear downed lines and restore power was wearing thin as Day 5 of the storm's aftermath began.

"I'm kind of done being polite. We had a fatality last night ... it's boiling over now," Mayor Scott Slifka said to CL&P representative Watson Collins on Wednesday morning.

Slifka had initially been advised that at least one contractor had chosen to do restoration work for United Illuminating rather than CL&P because of issues with payment from Irene clean-up.

"We've now contacted that company and they have now been engaged to work through Northeast Utilities' normal process," Slifka said later. The company, which has not been named, is now working on restoration in the Hartford area.

"We're trying to assess whether there are issues. We're continuting to push CL&P and to the extent that there are problems, we will look to hire contractors directly," Slifka said.

"The electrical outages are uniquely Northeast Utilities' to resolve. We continue to work as hard as we can with Northeast Utilities and hopefully these outage issues will be resolved in a reasonable timeframe," Director of Community Service Rob Rowlson said.

West Hartford town employees who have the proper "scope of authority" are already being tasked with assisting with clean-up and power restoration. Rowlson also said that the town is looking to engage contractors with the proper scope of authority to reattach service lines.

"We want to grab them ourselves if they are not working because of a problem with Northeast Utilities. We are not satisfied with the number of crews in West Hartford and to the extent that we can bring more crews in on our own to make up for the shortfall from CL&P, we will attempt to do that," Slifka said.

CL&P officials said Wednesday that there are now almost 1,000 line crews who are working to restore power to the remaining 538,000 residents without power. In many cases, however, crews are still working to clear roads to make it safe for repairs, according to CL&P President and Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Butler.

There were a total of 17 crews assigned to work in West Hartford on Wednesday according to Collins.

Jonathan Hochman November 03, 2011 at 02:44 PM
Fairfield, West Hartford is a densely populated suburb. We've had very few line crews working here, and almost no customers were restored until yesterday, when CL&P claims to have restored 5,000 of 28,000. They are averaging 1,000 customers per day in our town, which is pathetic progress. I understand that there are a large number of outages. What I want to see is an honest report from CL&P of where their crews are and what they are working on--because we don't see many crews here in West Hartford. We see tons of AT&T trucks fixing phone lines. We see residents who have already cleared most of the debris from their yards and stacked it at the curb for pickup. Everybody seems to be doing their part, except CL&P. The company has evidently put shareholder profits first, and failed to invest in a sufficient number of line crews, and failed to invest in sufficient maintenance (tree cutting around transmission lines). The government agencies responsible for supervising CL&P and ultimately our elected political officials also share the blame for the inefficient response. Please don't buy the public relations and happy talk that is shovel at you. The numbers don't lie. CL&P has been slow to restore service to some towns, and apparently has been slow to pay contractors, and has not been compensating contractors sufficiently to obtain the necessary help.
Sue Farrell November 03, 2011 at 03:47 PM
I really like how Mayor Slifka is taking charge of the situation and taking things into his own hands. While we are still without power, I want to thank Mayor Slifka for keeping us informed and doing everything he can do for us!
d harrington November 03, 2011 at 03:48 PM
More responses dropping to the way side! Nothing offensive was said. Anyway good luck stay well. See yeah next freak storm.
Jorge Diez November 04, 2011 at 09:39 AM
I have seen towns in Lousiana and Mississipi with budgets the size of our library able to clean off their cities in a few days. This is shameful. We should wake up.
d harrington November 04, 2011 at 07:29 PM
Do you know the Valoline oil change store on Park Rd. Is servicing cars in the dark with a small generator to pump the oil. I gotta hand it to them for there efforts, along with many others doing the same.

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