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One Year After Irene, CL&P Has New CEO, Revamped Operations

The utility hires new executive; spends tens of millions on storm restoration.

On the eve of the anniversary of Tropical storm Irene, and 10 months after CL&P's beleaguered president and CEO, Jeffrey Butler, resigned, the utility Monday announced his replacement; William P. Herdegen III.

Irene left a swath of devastation across the state when it hit on Aug. 28, 2011. An estimated 800,000 CL&P customers were left without power, some for up to 10 days. It also brought a storm of fierce criticism for CL&P and its leaders, criticism that mounted even more when a freak October snowstorm hit the state on Halloween last year.

Since then, CL&P has undergone a significant overhaul in the way it handles major storms since Irene slammed into Connecticut.

The company has created an “Emergency Preparedness Team” staffed by dozens of employees tasked solely with reviewing, updating and carrying out storm processes and procedures.

It spent $40 million this summer improving its electrical system in the state and undertook a four-day storm preparedness drill this summer that showed, according to CL&P Spokesman Mitch Gross, that the utility has improved its storm response efforts.

To keep the public informed during an emergency, Gross added, CL&P has beefed up its website to include broader storm-related information and adopted new media procedures to give the press greater access to company officials and the latest information during storms.

In Cheshire, the storm damage was minimal compared to the shoreline, but the concern for damage and power outages caused Cheshire school officials to cancel the first day of classes, before the storm hit.

The roots of a massive tree on South Brooksvale Road gave way in the saturated ground sending a three-foot diameter hardwood crashing onto the roof of the two-story home.

Wallingford Road was closed for at least four hours from a downed power line that ran for about 20 feet along the road.

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