West Hartford, Connecticut (CNN) – Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said Saturday, he is “increasingly skeptical” that the state’s main electric utility will be able to meet a midnight Sunday deadline to restore power to 99% of its customers — a week after a freak fall snowstorm left hundreds of thousands in the dark.
“I want them to meet this deadline, but at 31 hours from that deadline with 175,000 customers still out, I am skeptical,” Malloy said of Connecticut Light and Power, noting that to meet the deadline the utility will have to restore power to affected customers at a rate of 5,500 residences per hour.
As a result, Malloy has directed CL&P to provide him by 10 a.m. Sunday with a town-by-town, hour-by-hour restoration schedule.
“They need to work through the night, they need to hold their crews, they need to have as many people as possible on the streets of Connecticut to meet that goal,” Malloy said, adding that if by 10 a.m. Sunday the utility “knows it’s not going to meet its goal, I want to know that.”
Jeff Butler, the president and chief operating officer for CL&P, said Saturday that the utility’s crews “are making progress.”
“I know many of you are frustrated,” Butler said. “I realize it’s been a long week. … This was a historic event.”
More than 6,000 employees and contractors were working on the problem Saturday, Butler said. That is seven times the normal number of crews, he said — even greater than the response for Hurricane Irene, which battered large parts of the East Coast and Northeast in August and left millions without power.
“The devastation is unbelievable,” Butler said of the damage inflicted on the state by the snow storm.
Malloy said earlier Saturday he is bringing in a consulting firm to do an immediate analysis of the power company’s response, and legislative action is possible. Connecticut’s attorney general has already called for regulators to investigate CL&P.
Malloy warned residents of another cold night on Saturday and urged them to use warming centers or shelters set up across the state.
The snowstorm struck in late October, killing at least 22 people around the eastern United States. President Barack Obama has signed emergency declarations for New Hampshire and Connecticut, clearing the way for federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts.