CL&P says it has almost completed its damage assessments and has made substantial progress in clearing roads, which allows it to transition fully into "restoration mode" on Thursday.
William Quinlan, a utility vice president, said at a 4 p.m. briefing Wednesday that by Thursday morning he would have an estimate for when the vast majority of customers would get their power back.
"We continue to make excellent progress," Quinlan said, adding that the priority will be restoring critical facilities such as hospitals, police stations, fire stations and water treatment plants. About 500 such facilities still don't have power, he said.
In addition, Quinlan said, the company has firm commitments from 300 additional line workers and 250 additional tree workers and hopes to put them in the field tomorrow. That would bring the total number of out-of-state line workers — in addition to the 400 employed by CL&P — to 1380. The total number of called-in tree workers — in addition to about 300 in state who work regularly with CL&P — would go up to 888, he said.
Quinlan said the company had shifted its strategy from last year, when 800,000 customers lost power after a rare October snowstorm. It now considers clearing downed wires the highest priority.
"The reason we're focused on downed wires," he said, "is that they present a public health and safety risk."
Quinlan said there were a "substantial number of resources" in both the southwestern and southeastern corners of the state, where the most residents have lost power.
About 350,000 customers have had power restored since the storm began, but 320,000 customers were still in the dark on Wednesday afternoon.