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UI Cites Survey of Satisfied Customers During Sandy

Some in Stratford don't see it as such.

Power outages in Stratford caused by Hurricane Sandy peaked at about 12,000 customers. That put about half the town in the dark.

And although some residents were without power for a week, a survey released by United Illuminating this week reported that the majority of customers were satisfied with the utility's work.

"This survey confirms what we experienced in the field -- that our customers understood the magnitude of the task we faced in rebuilding our electric system after this devastating storm," James P. Torgerson, chief executive officer of UI's parent company, UIL Holdings Corporation, said in a statement.

"We, in turn, are immensely grateful for their patience," he said.

The telephone survey, conducted by the Center for Research in Meriden, Conn. between Nov. 15 and Nov. 20, found that 4 in 5 UI customers believed restoration times were reasonable given the magnitude of the storm.

And nearly 9 in 10 said they were satisfied with the utility's handling of its customers, the survey reported. Only 8.2 percent said they were dissatisfied.

Stratford Patch asked subscribers to its Facebook page if they thought the survey's conclusions painted an accurate picture. Reactions were mixed.

"No!" wrote Robin Farrar. "My grandmother didn't have power for a week, while the people across the street had it on within two days."

"They didn't survey in Lordship!" Robert Chambers chimed in.

"Six days isn't fast enough for me, sorry," added Gina Pezzullo Beshara.

Anne K. Mulligan offered a pro-UI argument: "We were among the lucky ones who never lost power. It did seem like there were a lot of hard-working utility workers out there, though."

And Vincent Tenney thanked all the UI employees for their efforts.

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United Illuminating, which serves 17 towns in Connecticut, said at the peak of the power outages, 280,000 customers were in the dark. The utility said it had electric service back to virtually all customers within eight days.

To reduce potential damage caused by future storms, the survey found:

  • 80.9 percent supported aggressive tree removal near power lines.
  • 40.7 percent said they would be willing to pay more to move UI's electrical system underground.
  • 20.3 percent said their support for burying power lines would depend on the overall impact on rates.

Other findings:

  • 88.1 percent of customers said they were somewhat or very well prepared when Sandy struck.
  • 62.8 percent reported hearing or seeing media reports or information about the progress of restoration and total number of UI customers without power.

More on the survey: The polling method provides a 95 percent level of confidence that results fall within a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points. Respondents represented all communities within UI's service territory, 70 percent of them living in coastal communities hit especially hard by Sandy.

Were you satisfied with UI's response to Sandy? Tell us in the comments below.

Tom Dowsman December 06, 2012 at 01:50 PM
I was without power for a week, and I think they did a great job. It was a HUGE job. Impossible to fix everything at once. We were low priority, just a handful of houses on a little side street. We reported the outage, they surveyed the day after the storm. The day after that, the other utilities were out marking their lines, the day after THAT, the fallen tree was removed. We weren't ignored. The neighbors all checked on each other. Everyone was fine.
Robert Chambers December 06, 2012 at 03:03 PM
I fully agree that they had a monumental task on their hands but in my instance they dropped the ball. Case in point. For those in the Lordship area near Short Beach you probably saw the pole with the 3 transformers that got knocked to a 45 degree angle which ended up shorting out the primary lines and putting 40 or more houses in the dark. During the last pole project alternate feeds for Lighthouse St from Prospect were put in with fuses. When Sandy struck, this neighborhood was fed from the Short Beach primaries. A quick fix for UI that would have improved their restoration numbers significantly would have been to remove the jumpers at Short beach and close the fuses on Prospect. Boom, 40 houses restored for 1 hours work. They didn't, they got the leaning pole put right and removed the jumpers to lighthouse. They restored the power to this transformer and got Short Beach houses powered up. 2 days later they close the fuse on Prospect to Lighthouse at 3am Monday morning rather than Saturday when the Short Beach pole was fixed. It's not too hard to figure out what happened.

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