Monthly Archives: October 2012

CL&P And The Towns: Okay For Now

by Categorized: Politics, Utilities Date:

Connecticut Light & Power passed its first big town relations test as most local officials said they were satisfied with the company’s communications management, if not the number of crews in their borders.  But as the days pile up, nerves are getting more frayed.

Read our story on how it’s going.  We left out a very colorful quote from one town official who said the liaisons are well meaning but don’t know much about power. “You could get anyone…it could be the lady in payroll.”

Well, that’s the point — rank-and-file office employees getting out to the towns. No offense meant to the folks of any gender who work in the depths of operations.

 

 

HMS Bounty Tall Ship Sinks In Hurricane, Three Days After Sailing From New London

by Categorized: Economic Development, Education Date:

Fourteen crew members of the HMS Bounty tall ship were rescued by the Coast Guard in Hurricane Sandy Sunday but one died and the captain is missing after an ill-fated journey that started Thursday in New London.

The ship, a replica of the 18th century vessel, was made for the 1962 movie “Mutiny on the Bounty,” starring Marlon Brando.

Day 2 after leaving New London

Why would it set sail into a hurricane known to be among the largest in area ever recorded? The story is told on the Bounty’s Facebook page and web page, and in the Washington Post.  The captain and crew tried to sail around Sandy but the ship took on water off the coast of North Carolina in 40-foot waves, and sank.

The Bounty was in New London on a stop after a month of repairs in Maine, on its way to its home port of St. Petersburg, Fla.  It stopped in Connecticut for a gathering with crew from the USS Mississippi submarine on Oct. 25, the New London Day reported.

Reached in St. Petersburg, the wife of Capt. Robin Walbridge told Reuters she was proud that the 17-year veteran of the vessel was doing what he loved, and was the last to leave the Bounty. He is still missing. Crew member Claudene Christian was recovered but later died.

 

 

 

Both Union Chiefs Among 8 Percent With Power Out At CL&P

by Categorized: Utilities Date:

By 4:30 p.m. Monday, 8 percent of the CL&P service area was out of power and those in the dark included, by coincidence, the heads of both unions representing line workers.

Frank Cirillo and John Fernandes, business managers of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers locals 457 and 420, respectively, took it in stride. hey both spent the afternoon checking on workers, making sure the overlay of CL&P crew and outside linemen was smooth.

“Everybody’s out there working, but the damage hasn’t even begun yet. I think we’re in for a long night,” said Cirillo, of Waterbury, where 7 percent of customers were in the dark.

An hour later, at 5 p.m., CL&P was up to 14 percent in the dark.

 

Storm Sandy Web Links Here for Prep, Forecast, Your Town, Outages and More

by Categorized: Consumer, Energy, Utilities Date:

This is a growing list. If you have more sites I should add, please put them in a comment below.  Be safe and don’t fly a kite during the storm. For the latest on Hurricane Sandy’s effects on Connecticut, visit courant.com/sandy.

UTILITIES

The CL&P Storm Center with info on outages

The CL&P outage map

CL&P’s Twitter feed, @CTLightandPower and Facebook page at facebook.com/ctlightandpower

CL&P’s lively, 2-minute video on YouTube on what to buy in advance

The United Illuminating storm center, with outage map and more

AT&T storm site  (Texting saves network capacity over calling!)

Propane Gas Association of New England

 

STATE AND TOWN INFO

Sign up for the state’s text alerts!

Guv Malloy’s home page — declaration of emergency signed Saturday

Link here to ALL 169 CITIES AND TOWNS!!!!!!!!

Connecticut Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security

CT Insurance Department Storm Sandy page with tips and info

CT Department of Public Health — safe water, etc.

Connecticut’s guide to emergency preparedness

Old Saybrook scored the www.stormsandy.com url, so go there for shoreline coverage!!!!!

Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency storm page with links for officials

 

FORECAST SITES

NOAA’s National Hurricane Center

National Weather Service

NOAA’s Environmental Visualization Lab, with images of the storm

NOAA Rainfall Forecast by day

MSNBC Storm Tracker, the 5-day wind forecast by city or ZIP code

Surfchex.com, live webcams up and down the coast

Federal Emergency Management Agency

 

TRANSIT

CT Transit alerts page

Metro North Information

Bradley Airport travel alerts

 

RETAIL

Stop & Shop store locator, with phone numbers

Big Y store locator

True Value hardware store locator

Ace Hardware Store locator

Black Bamboo Chinese restaurant

 

SHELTERS AND GENERAL INFO

United Way shelter search — call 211 or click here for locator

American Red Cross

Red Cross shelter location finder

 How mutual aid works for getting out-of-state crews to Connecticut

Why we need to invest in a ‘smart grid’ and how it works

Evaluating your water-damaged electrical appliances

The Press of Atlantic City

The Baltimore Sun

 

 

CL&P, UI, AT&T Confident As Storm Prep Advances

by Categorized: Utilities Date:

Connecticut Light & Power spent Friday afternoon continuing to arrange for 2,700 out-of-state workers to arrive by Sunday, mostly from the Midwest, including 2,000 line workers and 700 tree workers.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy took a moment to remind everyone in a press conference Friday that the company is under pressure to outperform its restoration work of last fall.

Is CL&P ready, one year later? We took a long look this week; read the story here. The company is confident, the unions are skeptical and public officials are cautiously optimistic.

The 2,700 workers would be in addition to the company’s 400 staff linemen and 300 tree workers who are already under regular contracts.  Some of the out-of-state workers are coming from utility companies under various mutual aid agreements, and others are through contractors contacted by CL&P.

As of late Friday afternoon, it remained unclear how many workers would actually arrive, as the company’s requests were being filled. Changes in the storm’s path could change staffing plans, but there is no schedule for when that might happen.

“It is entirely possible and it has happened in the past that you would have crews that are either already here or on the way, and they are basically thanked and they are off on their way, where another location could use them,” CL&P spokesman Mitch Gross said.

It was too soon to say Friday how much money CL&P was committing to bring the crews here. The company has set up staging areas in Middlebury, Middletown, Newtown, Waterford and Windsor, where the out-of-state crews will be based.

United Illuminating had secured 500 out-of-state line and clearing workers through private contractors by Friday, in addition to its staff of 100, spokesman Michael West said.  They’re coming from as far away as Georgia and Alabama.

“That is as much as we had at the peak of Irene,” he said, when the New Haven-based utility, which covers 17 cities and towns, lost power to 210,000 out of 324,000 customers.

Beyond that, UI has requested 600 more people through the utilities’ mutual aid groups, West said. If they all come, it would dwarf the Irene totals. “It’s an insurance policy,” he said.

AT&T issued a release saying it has “an arsenal of disaster response equipment and personnel on standby as Hurricane Sandy nears Connecticut.”

The company said its national Network Disaster Recovery team, with 320 equipment trailers, can be deployed. Back-up power at all cell sites is secured and capacity was being added to the wireless network.

CL&P Launches Emergency Plan, Calls For 2,700 Midwest Workers; UI Mobilizing

by Categorized: Utilities Date:

Connecticut Light & Power has opened the emergency operations center at its Berlin headquarters and called for 2,0o0 line workers and 700 tree workers from utilities and  contractors in the Midwest to be in place by Sunday.

CL&P is also urging residents to prepare for Sandy, which was upgraded to a hurricane Wednesday.

United Illuminating, which serves a smaller section of the state including New Haven and Bridgeport, has lined up an additional 300 workers, but has not yet called in mutual aid from Midwest utilities, a spokesman said.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy also issued a statement calling for residents to be prepared, with a list of emergency items.

CL&P and UI have both started their emergency plans. At CL&P, that includes activating 2,000 employees who aren’t normally in the field, for storm duty; setting up teams to stay in constant touch with cities and towns and critical customers; and girding CL&P’s 13 regional storm centers.

“We’re closely monitoring weather forecasts and preparing for high winds and heavy rain that can devastate the electric system and cause power outages,” said Bill Quinlan, the CL&P senior vice president of emergency preparedness.  “The past year has been all about improving storm response, and we stand ready to respond as quickly and safely as possible.  While we hope for the best, we all need to prepare for the worst.”

The request by CL&P for 2,700 workers is a formal step, but does not yet commit CL&P to pay for the aid, spokeswoman Tricia Taskey Modifica said. Those crews are in addition to CL&P’s own 400 line workers and 300 tree workers, all on full alert; crews from CL&P parent Northeast Utilities, in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, if the storm does not hit those areas; and in-state private firms that could provide crews.

“Understandably, other utilities on the east coast will not be able to release their own crews until they address storm damage,” Modifica said.

The 3,400 workers in place or requested compares with 4,400 who were on the job at the peak of the restoration effort after last year’s October snowstorm, which knocked out power to 800,000 customers, many for more than a week. But those numbers were not reached until the 9th day of that emergency, adding to the sharp criticism aimed at CL&P for its management of the storm.

Whatever else happens, this time around, no one will be able to criticize CL&P for requesting too little help, too late.

“At this point we are not going to underestimate this storm,” Quinlan said in an interview Wednesday at the then-dormant emergency operations center.

The company is asking customers to prepare storm kits and make other emergency plans for a possible hit by Sandy mid- to late Monday.  Its lively, 2-minute video on YouTube takes viewers through the steps needed to get ready.

Malloy, in an interview Wednesday, said the state is “watching closely” and would be prepared to respond strongly. “We will be aggressive in all of our decisions and I suspect that they will be fairly aggressive,” Malloy said of CL&P

CL&P provided several links for customers preparing:

Connecticut’s Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, www.ct.gov/demhs 

The Connecticut American Red Cross,  www.ctredcross.org.

CL&P’s Twitter feed, @CTLightandPower and Facebook page at facebook.com/ctlightandpower.

Check back here and at www.courant.com for constant updates.

Social Enterprise Event Shows Different Forms Of Community Action

by Categorized: Commerce Date:

It was an eye-opening night Tuesday for people interested in different models of business culture, as reSET, the Social Enterprise Trust, held its 2012 awards event in downtown Hartford.
The nonprofit group, dedicated to advancing business with a community-improving social purpose beyond profits, honored five local firms.
What is social enterprise? Its many forms were illustrated in the difference between Kenai Sports, the firm that won reSET’s Connecticut Innovations Technology Trailblazer Award, and Warby Parker, an eyeglass maker that was recognized by reSET at the event at the restored Society Room on Pratt Street.
Kenai, of New Britain, reduces trash in landfills by making performance sportswear, including uniforms at Babson College and other schools, out of plastic that’s been thrown out. Plenty of companies use plastic from recycling streams; Kenai focuses on trash that missed the recycling bins altogether.
The usable plastic trash that is not recycled in the United States every year “is enough to fill Fenway Park to the brim 22 times over,” said Phil Tepfer, Kenai’s co-founder.
Warby Parker sells eyeglasses and is committed to helping one underprivileged person, often in a developing nation, receive a pair of eyeglasses for every pair it sells — not by giving one away, but by working with nonprofit agencies. The glasses are made in east Asia in a traditional, if closely watched, supply chain, said Lane Wood, director of social innovation for the firm.
Wood gave a colorful keynote address in which he told business owners to “always be the most generous brand in the room,” and “find a way to be interesting.”
His firm does its social enterprise work on the back end, while firms such as Kenai are concerned with how they produce their goods, rather than what they do with profits.
Also receiving awards Tuesday from reSET were Combat2Career of Simsbury, which matches veterans with higher education programs (winner of the Boehringer Ingelheim Care Foundation award; Good Cause Gifts, a Middletown retailer that people with disabilities; NIRO Design Center, in Hartford, which combines training, design and other services to help young people; and The Hartford Artisans Weaving Center, which teaches handweaving to older and sight-impaired people.

 

Social Enterprise Awards Tuesday Night in Hartford

by Categorized: Commerce, Small Business Date:

On a day when social enterprise businesses will gather in Hartford, the foundation connected with Connecticut’s bellwether social enterprise, Newman’s Own, said it will give almost $4 million to 40 groups connected with nutrition, mostly for children.

Newman’s Own Foundation said in a Courant story earlier this year it will give away $30 million in 2012, 30 years after the actor first sold salad dressing at Stew Leonard’s.

Newman’s Own isn’t the only Connecticut firm founded on principles other than profit for its owner. The group called reSET, the Social Enterprise Trust, will have its annual awards event tonight at the Society Room on Pratt Street in downtown Hartford.

Several companies will be recognized for innovative ways of combining business structure with product and services for broader social good.  Last year’s top winner was GG2G, a Milford firm that makes handbags and other accessories out of salvaged billboard and restaurant seating materials.

Featured tonight will be Warby Parker Eyewear, which joins with nonprofits to distribute a pair of glasses to someone in need for every one it sells. TheNew York firm, named for Jack Kerouac characters, will headline a fashion show of apparel and accessories from socially responsible firms around the country.

The event starts at 6:30 after a reception for patrons at 5:30.

 

As Firms Report Global Weakness, UTC Holds Ground, With Caution

by Categorized: Aerospace, Defense, Manufacturing Date:

Wall Street is worried about company earnings as bellwether firms report sluggish sales, and United Technologies Corp. said today it’s also concerned about the global economy affecting revenues.

But on a day when 3M, DuPont and UPS all missed targets or reported lower sales, UTC held its own, reporting a 6 percent revenue gain, excluding businesses it’s selling.

CEO Louis Chenevert, however, said aerospace aftermarket, and the global economy in general, will keep sales this year at $58 billion, the low end of previous estimates.  He upped the set-aside for restructuring to $600 million from $500 million, a move that always raises fears of layoffs.

Operating profits and margins were off from 3Q 2011 levels, but as lways, UTC’s numbers slightly exceeded expectations, with the culture of no surprises continuing.

The result: on a morning when the Dow was down by 195 points, approaching 1.5 percent, UTC was off just a few cents, at $77.62.  For a while it hovered at the lucky $77.77 level — so we’re hoping for that as the close for the day.

Better Off Or Worse Off in CT? A New Poll Is Negative

by Categorized: Economy, Jobs, Politics Date:

Thirty-eight percent of Connecticut residents said their households are financially better off now than they were four years ago, compared with 51 percent who said they’re worse off, a new poll from Siena College shows.

That result is more negative than a recent University of Connecticut/Hartford Courant poll, which showed 43 percent of respondents better off and 34 percent worse off.

Two big differences in the polls: The Siena Poll, by the Siena Research Institute at the Loudonville, N.Y. college, released Monday, queried a cross section of all adults and asked specifically about whether households were better off financially.  The UConn/Courant poll, done last month, asked likely voters if they were “generally” better or worse off.

In both polls, Democrats were far more likely to say they were better off than Republicans — 54 percent of Democrats in the Siena poll, compared with 22 percent of Republicans.

Twenty percent of respondents of the Siena poll, which was sponsored by First Niagara Bank, said they and their families were better off financially in the last year, compared with 37 percent who said they were worse off.

When asked to look ahead five years, Siena respondents were split evenly on whether Connecticut will see “continuous good times” or “periods of widespread unemployment or depression,” with Fairfield County residents showing the most optimism on that question, 42 percent good, 29 percent bad.

As we’d expect, 75 percent said  gasoline prices are having a very serious or somewhat serious effect on their family’s finances.

The poll queried 633 state residents by phone from October 4 to 14, and weighted some answers differently by age, gender and political party, to “enhance representativeness,” for a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.