Same old story?

It sure doesn't seem as if Connecticut Light & Power restoration efforts have improved since the twin storms of 2011 - Tropical Storm Irene and the freak Halloween snowstorm. Certainly those without power since hurricane-turned-nor'easter Sandy blew through last Monday are not convinced the utility company learned any lessons from its prior poor performance.

But emotions of the moment aside, it is too early to say for sure how well or how poorly goes the job restoring electricity. A little perspective might be in order. This was a massive, powerful storm, affecting a large area. There was so much damage to electric grids throughout the entire Northeast that crews that might normally rush in to help were simply not available.

While repairing electric utility lines is something those without power certainly want to see done fast, it is also something that the repair crews have to take the time to do right. Reports that power restoration caused a couple of small fires in East Lyme, when downed wires were energized, shows the importance of assuring all infrastructure is safely in place before the power flows. (Both fires were quickly doused.)

Mayors and first selectmen are complaining about not seeing enough utility trucks in their communities or being too low of a priority. But that is what elected leaders can be expected to do, and is not evidence of poor planning or execution.

Disturbing are the isolated reports of customers shouting at utility crews and even throwing objects. While the frustration of people left in the cold and dark is certainly understandable, such behavior is unacceptable. We trust these workers are doing the best they can.

Because of legislation passed in the wake of the prior disastrous storms, when this is over there will be a mandatory government review of the performance of CL&P and United Illuminating, the state's other major electric utility. Only then will the public get a thorough, objective assessment of restoration performance and learn whether old mistakes were repeated and must be corrected.

We'd also like to take this time to applaud the municipal utilities in Groton, Norwich and Jewett City. Once again, they had fewer outages and got the power back on faster. Smaller is sometimes better.

The editorial board is composed of the publisher and four journalists of varied editing and reporting backgrounds. The board's discussions and information gained from its meetings with political, civic, and business leaders drive the institutional voice of The Day, as expressed in its editorials. The editorial department operates separately from the newsroom.


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