Thursday, November 03, 2011

Frustrations Mount As Millions Remain Without Power Across Northeast

While there's been quite a bit of good news in New Jersey (particularly PSE&G) in restoring power, other areas aren't so lucky. Jersey Central Power and Light has the bulk of the outages in New Jersey, and PSE&G has reduced their outages to about 20,000 statewide (mostly Northern NJ). Those that are still without power can't take solace in those figures.

JCP&L is urging people to be patient, but as the outages wear on and the weather remains cold, it's hard to give the company any slack. After all, PSE&G was able to cut down the number of outages significantly, although towns like Teaneck remain a mess and schools remain closed as a result of the ongoing outages.

Orange and Rockland still has thousands without power across the Hudson River valley, and CLP still has more than 400,000 customers without power.

The frustration is mounting, and there's quite a bit of chatter about how CLP has misallocated its resources, including not giving mutual assistance crews the go-ahead to fix downed lines and equipment when they have the ability to do so. Power isn't expected to be restored until the weekend in large parts of Connecticut, and it doesn't appear that anyone is going to hold the utility responsible. Gov. Malloy is talking the talk about how they're trying to safely restore power and that it will take time, but isn't taking the right tone in dealing with the utility, which seems to have done everything wrong - from refusing to make the mutual aid calls in a reasonable time frame, to underestimating the level of damage, and then not giving its mutual assistance crews the ability to fix what needs to be fixed so that areas can be restored.

Some localities are considering suits against the utility. One in particular is Simsbury, which claims that the utility has only one crew working there - and that the public works crews are trying to clear streets, but need the utility to sign off on whether the lines are safe to work around and clear.
When asked whether the town was going to seek a lawsuit against Connecticut Light & Power, Glassman said the town is extremely disappointed that up until Wednesday they have had one CL&P crew working in Simsbury.

The town sued CL&P in the 1990s for the same reason because there were too many outages at the same time.

As a result of that lawsuit, CL&P increased their tree-trimming program, upgraded their transmission lines and added a substation in Simsbury which has since improved power in Simsbury.

“But we have a lot of questions now,” Glassman said. “Why five days into the storm do we only have one crew assigned to Simsbury, which was one of the hardest towns hit? So we will be exploring our options including litigation.”

Public Works Director Tom Roy said Tuesday they have every single person working on the restoration efforts and there are several contractors clearing the streets and debris.

“What our goals are right now is to get access to residents by car and emergency vehicles,” said Roy. “The limiting factor for us the majority of trees that have not been cleared at this point are entangled in the power lines. We need CL&P to verify that it is safe to work near them.”
Clearly, it appears that CLP is in hot water with its customers and regulators better take a good look at whether it's exercised reasonable prudence when it comes to maintaining its grid, handled trimming trees properly, and then failed to address the outage in any semblance of urgency.

No comments: