Updated: Sunday, 16 Sep 2012, 11:58 AM EDT
Published : Sunday, 16 Sep 2012, 11:58 AM EDT
HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) -- Senator Richard Blumenthal called for increased staffing, fair compensation, and affordable rates at Connecticut Light and Power (CL&P).
Labor shortages at the state utility have caused it to be inadequately responsible and reliable to consumers, particularly during power outages.
Currently, CL&P has 397 linemen, almost 20 fewer than it had during the October snowstorm last year. Staffing levels are predicted to decline further because experienced linemen will soon retire. Typically, more than four years of experience is required for a newly hired lineman to replace a retiree.
"CL&P workers deserve a fair deal, with fair wages and benefits, and Connecticut consumers deserve fair rates, with assurance that their service will be reliable and responsive," Blumenthal said. "Just last year, inadequate staffing contributed to lengthy delays in restoring electricity to countless homes, businesses, schools, and potential services."
Countless Connecticut families recall how challenging it was to live several days, and in some cases, more than a week without power following the October snowstorm.
"Families had to leave their homes, medically fragile seniors were endangered, schools were shuttered for a week, and businesses suffered huge financial damage, largely because CL&P staffing and planning were deplorably lacking," said Blumenthal.
Blumenthal added, "Make no mistake, CL&P workers performed with extraordinary dedication and diligence to restore power but there were simply not enough of them. Years of attrition and reductions in workforce caused the utility to depend on outside contractors who were often unavailable or inadequately skilled. The company now has the opportunity and obligation to do the right thing for both workers and consumers."