As 430,000 CL&P customers remained in the dark late Tuesday afternoon, a utility spokesman said the extent of the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy meant that the utility couldn't yet offer a restoration timeline.
"We've been at this for less than 24 hours," William Quinlan, a senior vice president for CL&P, said at a 6 p.m. news briefing. "We'll be close to completing that tomorrow."
Power had been restored to 210,000 customers by late Tuesday afternoon, Quinlan said, and the company had 1,080 line workers from outside the state working with its own crews to repair lines as well as 638 tree workers to help with downed trees and limbs.
In Bethany, 71 percent of the town and 1,658 customers were without electricity as of 7:30 p.m.. Woodbridge is served by United Illuminating and has outages for 63 percent of customers.
"There's a request across the United States for 22,000 line workers," Quinlan said when asked why the utility hadn't already reached its goal of 2,000 out-of-state line workers. "There's over 6 million customers without power."
CL&P, the state's largest utility, provides power to customers in 149 of Connecticut's 169 municipalities. Every one of those towns was affected in some way by Hurricane Sandy, the utility said.
"Our system took on very heavy damage last night," Quinlan said. The company's priorities today, he said, were clearing blocked roads, assessing damage and establishing staging areas in Waterford, Madison, Newtown, Stamford and Westport.
By far the heaviest damage during Hurricane Sandy happened along the Connecticut shoreline, but some inland towns also have extensive power outages because of wind gusts that took down trees and power lines.
Comparing the damage to last year's outages affecting 800,000 people after a freak October snowstorm, Quinlan said the utility was better prepared for this storm.
"We think we have the resources to deliver a strong response," he said.
Eleven tranmission lines were out because of the storm, but Quinlan said four of those — affecting 30,000 customers — would be restored soon.
The utility urged customers to call 800-286-2000 to report outages, and when the restoration effort is further along, to get an estimate of restoration times.
"We think we're making very good progress," Quinlan said. "As we move into the bulk of the restoration, we'll be energizing large numbers of people."
For the most recent outage reports, visit CL&P's outage map.