UPDATE 2:25 p.m.: Tricia Modifica, a spokesman for CL&P, responded to concerns about its response to the Christmas Eve power outage:
It turns out, there were a few other outages happening in the area at the same time Monday night and unfortunately that delayed the work needed to be done to restore power. We know that restoration estimates are important for our customers to plan accordingly and we always want to do our best to give customers accurate information during an outage and we apologize if some customers did not receive timely updates in this case. This is certainly a learning opportunity to improve our communication going forward.
ORIGINAL STORY: A Christmas Eve car accident on the Post Road near the YMCA left roughly 600 Darienites without electricity until Christmas morning. The car took out a utility pole, which then had to be completely replaced, according to Connecticut Light & Power. The accident happened during the evening and repairs were not completed by CL&P until the following morning.
Police said the damage to the power lines was “substantial.” No one appeared to be injured, police added.
UPDATE 10:24 a.m.:
At least one resident contacted The Darien Times, lamenting the lack of communication from the town, CL&P and local media.
““I understand that accidents like the one of the Post Road happen, but what I don’t understand is why it took 16 hours” to fix, stated Jim Cameron, a resident who writes a column for The Darien Times, in an email. “Because it was Christmas Eve/Day, I’m afraid that CL&P deliberately under-staffed the job to save money on overtime.”
A CL&P spokesperson told The Times that it had staff on call for Christmas Eve, but the company did not immediately respond to a later request for further comment.
First Selectman Jayme Stevenson told The Times that she got a call from police at 11:30 p.m. about the accident. She then checked the company’s outage map on its website, which indicated residents would have power back on in a few hours. By Christmas morning, however, power still hadn’t been restored.
“CL&P has the ability to communicate directly with their customers,” Stevenson said. During Sandy the company maintained open lines of communication with its customers, which, Stevenson added, is “the system they need to be employing when they have a big chunk of customers without power.”
Cameron said CL&P’s updates on time estimates for completion continued to increase throughout the evening, leaving those without power frustrated.
“When 8% of your town loses power, especially on a cold winter’s night, more needs to be done,” Cameron said.
Police sent out a town-wide Code Red Christmas morning regarding the outage. Stevenson, however, noted that CL&P needs to be more proactive in reaching out to the town and its customers during situations like this.
“The job of… the police department is public safety, it’s not to triage communications about power outages,” Stevenson said. “We’ll have that conversation of what [CL&P] needs to do when their customers are without power. It’s not an appropriate business model to have town government to play the communication liaison role.”