CL&P CHIEF: ‘SNOW WAS MORE THAN WHAT WAS FORECAST’; LATER ADMITS HE FULLY KNEW

The story of the freak pre-Halloween snow storm has gone down the rabbit hole. Get this: Connecticut Light & Power’s Big Cheese is early Wednesday the storm brought much more snow than expected; more than what was forecasted. He’s probably right. No one would have expected that amount of snow EXCEPT FOR ANYONE WHO WATCHED, HEARD OR READ A DAMN FORECAST AS FAR OUT AS THE THURSDAY BEFORE THE SATURDAY STORM! (The cap letters mean I’m yelling.) By 6 pm Wednesday, the Connecticut news corps was ready to pounce—and rightly so. They got CL&P’s Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Butler to admit they knew what the storm would bring. Then the questions came about why the out-of-town crews were late to arrive—THEY WEREN’T PAID! (Again, yelling).

Let’s review, kids. At the Wednesday morning storm briefing, as transcribed by popular Hartford Courant columnist Rick Green, “The amount of snow which ended up being the problem was far more significant than what had been forecast. This event as it came in Saturday started earlier and lasted longer with more snow accumulation. And remember, all the trees still had their foliage on… We did plan for long term outages. I did not expect it to be anywhere close to where almost a million of our discrete customers lost their power…Based on all the forecasts I saw and the snow that accumulated I did not expect that. It exceeded anything that we were looking at as a forecast for damage.”

I think The Shad speaks for many in Connecticut who would say in response, “Are you [bleeping] kidding me?” First, my friends in the weather forecasting business are insulted by Butler’s claim. The usually affable Ryan Hanrahan, who always has a smile every time I am on set at NBC-Connecticut (Channel 30), was understandably offended. He wrote on his blog, “Obviously CL&P either has a private forecasting firm that is just plain bad or they were not listening to some of us degreed meteorologists on TV in the state [who] were forecasting a crippling snowstorm. Friday morning, Bob Maxon and I were forecasting up to a foot of snow that was ‘record-shattering and historic.’ 36 hours out it’s not every day we use words like ‘record-shattering’ and ‘historic.’”

Hanrahan, perhaps the Irish in him rising, added, “In addition, we were playing up the ‘impact’ more than the actual amounts. With leaves on the trees and the heavy, wet type of snow expected we knew power outages could be a huge deal.” Right on, Ryan.

Back to the Wednesday morning briefing. If Gov. Malloy had been drinking a cup of coffee at the time the clueless CL&P honcho claimed, “We didn’t know!” he would have spit the coffee across the room. Malloy jumped in, lest he be seen as equally dopey, “I expected it and I expected … if that storm played out that way it was … that people would be without power for a week. We did say that.” Yikes.

FOX Connecticut TV and WTIC-AM radio meteorologist Joe Furey—another guy who is extremely welcoming in my appearances on The FOX Morning News (at an ungodly hour at that)—was also upset by Butler’s claims telling Rick Green, “On Thursday night and Friday morning it was evident … this storm was going to explode. I was confident on Friday morning that 6 to 12 inches of snow was in the forecast. My tone and demeanor was that we are in trouble.”

So how come these forecasts, given by the most reputable professionals in this field in the state, didn’t make it to “Butler the Oblivious?” Perhaps he was busy thinking of ways to spend the $3.6 MILLION HE MADE LAST YEAR! Since I’m on a rant, let me end by saying, you can’t make this stuff up.

In a positive move, state Speaker of the House Chris Donovan and Energy and Technology Committee Co-Chair Vicky Nardello proposed a new system of steep fines for utilities that fail to perform in situations such as this one. The only thing CL&P understands is the bottom line. Hit them there and you may be on to something.

Unfortunately, Nardello has no credibility on this issue at all (and one wonders whether she has any cred left on any energy issues). It was revealed earlier this week she was “too busy with other legislative business” to meet with leaders of the unions representing the utility linesmen. The union officials wanted to warn state officials of the potentially disastrous shortage of linemen. Nardello was no doubt caught up in the special “jobs special session” of the state legislature. Note to Chair Nardello: THERE WILL BE NO JOBS OF ANY KIND WITHOUT ELECTRICAL POWER! Ok, I’m done. For now.