Connecticut Light & Power Exec in Eye of Post-Irene Storm Over Outages

Posted by jcashman

Courtesy of Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — William J. Quinlan lives in one of the shoreline towns that was last to get power restored by CL&P, on Sept. 9. Regardless, he thinks the utility overall did a good job turning the lights back on across the state.

Quinlan allows that CL&P could have communicated and coordinated better. And now, that’s his job.

On Monday, Quinlan, 51, a longtime executive at CL&P, was appointed to lead the company’s effort to analyze the response to Tropical Storm Irene and enhance communications with elected and municipal officials in the 149 towns it serves.

“One of the things we heard from towns is that we need to look at better and different ways of communicating information to them, and I think that really triggered this initiative,” Quinlan said in an interview Wednesday. “What we’re trying to do is take the things that worked really well in this storm and apply them to all the towns.”

That will put Quinlan in the eye of the post-storm storm, along with his boss, Jeff Butler, president and chief operating officer at CL&P.

It’s a natural assignment for Quinlan, whose title is vice president for customer solutions — meaning he oversees the many programs and issues around electricity delivery and development. He’s responsible for the company’s metering, account executives, economic development, community relations and such advancements as Smart Grid technology and electric vehicle infrastructure.

The heart of the plan, so far, is for CL&P to hone the town liaison system it put in place for Irene, in which each city and town has a CL&P manager acting as its point person.

“This is the first major storm where we’ve had a formal town liaison program, so we’re still trying to work out some of the issues that came up,” he said. “I do think we need to work on our ability to communicate our business in terms that a town can understand,” such as how many crews are in town and where they will work and when.

Communication has been named before as a key problem in CL&P storm recovery, notably after a March 2010 storm that left 80,000 people without power, mostly in Fairfield County.

But Quinlan’s expanded role comes as many people in the state wonder whether the problems go deeper. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the state legislature are separately investigating.

Irene, however, was a statewide hit that caused 10 times the normal number of outages and affected every town, with issues such as downed trees riddling the landscape. “I think overall the company did very well from a restoration perspective, if you look at what other utilities are able to accomplish,” Quinlan said.

Separately, the company is continuing its advertising and public relations campaign to thank customers for their patience and cities, towns and state agencies for their assistance in the storm recovery. Some customers believe CL&P didn’t do enough to prepare for the storm, but that’s not true, Quinlan said.

“The company did a tremendous amount of advance planning,” he said, adding that the first couple of days after the storm hit were largely spent assessing damage.

Quinlan will travel around the state talking with local officials at first. There’s no public schedule yet and there are no immediate plans for public meetings, he said. “We look forward to this dialogue. This is an open, honest dialogue.”

Quinlan joined Northeast Utilities, CL&P’s parent company, in 1984 as an assistant engineer in the nuclear program. A lawyer with an MBA degree, he has been deputy general counsel at NU and has held many operations jobs.

During Irene’s aftermath, he was “on the ground with local teams across the state, making him uniquely qualified” for the new task, Butler said.

Quinlan may better remember his other qualification — going home to a dark house. “I happen to live in one of those towns,” he said, “so I empathize.”

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

Related posts:

  1. Power Outages Rise as Irene Approaches Bay State
  2. Irene Hits Connecticut Hard; Kills 2 People, Brings Floods, Outages {Video}
  3. Power outages, flooding from Irene in Mass.
  4. Evacuations Urged in Vermont; Power Outages Spread
  5. 39,000 Remain Without Power a Week After Irene

Short URL:

Posted by jcashman on Sep 18 2011. Filed under Featured - For home page featured article. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply

Log in | Maintained by BlackDoor Creative