To the Editor:
For days before Hurricane Sandy hit, weather forecasters were predicting that this could be a storm of historic magnitude. You would think that United Illuminating, in that time, would have heeded the warnings and marshaled the anticipated resources and repair crews needed and have them in place by the time the storm struck.
Yet incredibly on Tuesday, the day after the storm, UI sent only a single crew to service Fairfield, a town of 60,000 residents with reportedly 97% without power. On Wednesday they had a paltry three crews assigned to restore power in a town with nearly 300 fallen trees tangled with dangerous power lines.
This is pathetic. Even after the debacle of Irene last year, UI was woefully unprepared to deal with this storm. Now, after the fact, they are calling in crews from outside the storm-affected regions to assist in restoring power. Why weren't these units summoned, ready and in place when they had days of warning to do so?
This is what happens when you have a monopoly controlling the delivery of electricity to this area. You don't have to answer to anyone, not even state and local officials who bluster and act angry for show, but have little power or resolve to make United Illuminating do what they are obligated to. We are all at their profit-protecting mercy. Obviously, their "wait and see" and "we need to assess the damage first" tactics are meant to stall for time and save money, while thousands suffer from the loss of vital electricity that runs their lights, heating, appliances, communication devices, water pumps, and more.
Last month, I was charged $32 by the company who generates my electricity and $58 by United Illuminating for delivering it. Almost double! It's outrageous what they are charging to deliver power to their captive customers and even worse, in spite of their exorbitant rates, that they provide chintzy responses to disasters like this.
Where's the competition? Believe me, this would not happen if UI had competitors to deliver electricity. You can bet they'd put more money into disaster response and get the power back on posthaste, or people would fire their butts in a heartbeat. Let's subject these powerful and profit-centric utilities to a little more free market competition. I assure you we'd have our full power back on here in Fairfield far sooner than their unacceptable estimate of next Monday at midnight.
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