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750,000 Electric Customers in Northeast Still Without Power After Deadly Storm

Three-quarters of a million people across the Northeast still have no power as the result of an unprecedented October storm that dumped record amounts of snow and caused massive outages from Pennsylvania to New Hampshire.

More than 2.3 million electric customers had no electricity on Oct. 30. Nine deaths were attributed to the storm in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Connecticut. Massachusetts and Connecticut were among the hardest-hit states. Plainfield, Mass., recorded 27 inches of snow while Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., recorded more than 12 inches of snow. According to the state’s weather service, the previous record in Connecticut was a tenth of an inch, in 2000.

CL&P posted a dire update on its Twitter feed after the storm hit: “Unprecedented damage from this storm. Please prepare for worst case scenario — a week or more without power.”

“It’s a pretty difficult situation in Connecticut right now; we have more power outages than at any time in our history,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in an interview with The New York Times on Sunday following a briefing on the storm’s damage. “A large percentage of the trees had extensive foliage; that’s what brought these trees down. A snowfall of anywhere from 2 to 18 inches in the middle of the winter would not produce the kind of damage that this storm is producing.”

The situation had improved by Thursday, when the number of residents in the Northeast without power fell to 750,000, including 144,000 in Massachusetts, 74,000 in New Jersey, 65,000 in Pennsylvania, 36,000 in New Hampshire and 17,000 in New York.

About 427,000 electric customers in Connecticut, about 34 percent of the state, remained without power Thursday as electric utilities struggled to repair massive damage. Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P), one of the state’s largest utilities, estimated that restoration to its customers would be complete by Sunday night, more than a week after the storm shut down power to nearly a million residents.

In Massachusetts, state Attorney General Martha Coakley said her office had received “a variety of complaints” over the power restoration process. Coakley said she intends to launch an investigation into public utilities’ response to the storm. A previous investigation by Coakley into a December 2010 storm led to a $2 million settlement with National Grid and a probe into how utilities prepared and responded to Tropical Storm Irene.

Sources

“Power Outages Plague Northeast Residents,” Reuters, Nov. 3, 2011.

“Storm Leaves More Than 2 Million Without PowerThe New York Times, Oct. 30, 2011.

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