As hundreds of thousands of Connecticut residents waited to hear when their power would be restored, William Quinlan, a senior vice president for CL&P, offered some hope that word would come early Thursday.
"We expect to complete our damage assessment later today," he said at a televised press briefing. "Tomorrow morning, we'll have our first global projection for restoration."
The projection will offer a date by which the vast majority of customers will have their power restored. In the hardest hit areas — such as southwestern and southeastern Connecticut — "there may be a handful of customers who go beyond that," Quinlan said.
While CL&P said it had over 500,000 customers out during the peak of Hurricane Sandy, the numbers of customers restored and those still without it don't add up to that peak number. That's because customers have both lost power after the peak and had their power turned off while repairs were made.
Quinlan said the utility made good progress overnight — taking the total number of outages from 31 percent of the system to 27 percent. He said the company has focused on road clearing, assessing damage, setting up staging areas and completing the restoration of the transmission system.
More than 500 service workers are also out repairing damage between customers' home and the CL&P system so that the power will come back on when the lines are restored, he said.
Quinlan had two cautions as well. He asked parents to be extremely careful during trick-or-treating to avoid any downed power lines, and he asked that people using generators be sure they are properly installed by an electrician.
"We've heard a lot of instances of folks plugging generators into dryer outlets," Quinlan said, which can create a backfeed into the system that can energize lines. That could put crews trying to repair those lines in danger.
Quinlan also addressed a reporter's question regarding First Selectman Edward Haberek Jr. of Stonington's postings on Facebook about his unhappiness with the CL&P response. The town was still 93 percent out as of 5:40 a.m. on Wednesday.
"This morning, we're doing additional outreach," Quinlan said. "There will be a large presence of crews in Stonington today."