HARTFORD, Conn. – A much-anticipated report on the record power outages in Connecticut after October's historic nor'easter will be presented Friday morning by a Washington, D.C., consulting firm run by former FEMA director James Lee Witt.
The report will be presented to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and a special panel investigating the outages.
Malloy will hold a news conference at 10 a.m. with Witt Associates' Vice President Charles Fischer to discuss findings in the firm's independent review and analysis of the storm.
After the news conference, Fischer will make a presentation on the report to Malloy's Two-Storm Panel, which the governor charged with investigating how Connecticut can better prepare for future storm disasters such as the pre-Halloween nor'easter and Hurricane Irene, which resulted in extensive and prolonged power outages in August.
Joseph McGee, co-chairman of the Two-Storm Panel, said his task force expects the Witt report to provide "valuable insights and recommendations" on how the state and power companies can better prepare for future storms.
"We are extremely interested in his [Witt's] findings," said McGee, vice president of the Business Council of Fairfield County. "We will use the report as part of our investigation, and expect it will provide valuable guidance in helping prepare our own report by mid-January."
McGee said the panel, which also met Wednesday, has accumulated "considerable information that has started to make very clear what has been lacking, and what needs to be done to improve the response to these storms by the state, the power companies and local municipalities."
McGee said one of the keys to better preparedness is to greatly reduce communication and mapping problems among state emergency response teams, the utility companies and local governments. Such problems resulted in serous delays in getting roads cleared and prolonged power outages during both storms.
"We have the technology to more quickly identify where the worst problems are, and how to better communicate among the different governmental agencies and to the public about what is going on," said McGee.
"But we have to come up with a plan on how to put that technology into effect, and how to vastly improve coordination to speed up the emergency response and power restoration process."
Under pressure from lawmakers and customers after the October storm, Malloy announced that Witt, who served as President Bill Clinton's FEMA director, would conduct a "thorough and timely review of both Connecticut Light & Power Co. and United Illuminating Co. and their handling of the winter storm."
Witt's firm agreed to conduct a pro bono, independent review of the handling of the power outages by the two utility companies.
Jeffrey Butler, the embattled president and CEO of CL&P, resigned two weeks ago amid criticism of the company's slow response to the power outages.