Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Power Remains Out For Millions In Northeast; Connecticut Remains Hardest Hit

While I may have gotten power restored yesterday, millions of other people in the NYC metro area and up into New England are still suffering for lack of power.

PSE&G has been ramping up its response, and they've got more trucks and equipment stashed at the parking lot for Garden State Plaza than when they used it as a staging area for Hurricanes Irene and Lee. They're using the lot to stash equipment ranging from poles and transformers to power lines and other key equipment to get the distribution lines up and running.

Connecticut Light and Power is saying that it hopes to get power restored to 99% of its customers by Sunday. There are also reports that CLP's response may have been slow because the company hadn't paid contractors for work done during the storm response to Hurricane Lee and Irene.
On Tuesday, Butler also said that he was aware of reports that a slow response from out-of-state contractors who were hesitant to travel to Connecticut to aid in power restoration was because they had not been paid from their work during tropical storm Irene.

When asked if the non-payment had been an issue that prompted the contractors to avoid showing up sooner in Connecticut this week, Butler said, "I'm not aware that it has been.''

"I know our customers are extremely frustrated,'' Butler said. "It's not a pleasure to have customers without power.''

He added, "Unlike Irene, it's cold at night. ... We recognize the frustration.''
Butler is the COO of CLP; and the company better be looking at revisiting the policy in light of the devastating outages that affected all parts of Connecticut and nearly took CLP off the grid entirely.

Trying to pin the blame on the lack of mutual aid from PSE&G or Con Ed makes no sense, not when utilities up and down the East Coast from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York were struggling to deal with millions of outages themselves. PSE&G was bringing in crews from Ohio and elsewhere to assist; so too was Con Ed; yet CLPwas finding it difficult to track down mutual assistance? That would appear to have more to do with the CLP company policy than the mutual assistance companies.

Even the feds are noticing that the storm response is slower than during Irene, particularly in Connecticut:
Bryan says utility companies didn't have time to get additional workers from other regions in place before the snowstorm like they were able to do before Irene in August. The companies had several days to prepare for Irene and only a few days to prepare for the snowstorm, which hit the region harder than was forecast. At midweek last week, some forecasters said the storm was going to miss New England.

Thousands of extra crews from across the country are now helping to restore power in the Northeast, where some utility customers aren't expected to get their electricity back until next week.

"When you know you've got a hurricane coming, part of the mutual assistance package is to pre-stage crews," Bryan said. "So after the hurricane has come and gone, you already have crews on the outskirts ready to come in and start working. … This storm hit, and these crews were not mobilized."

Six thousand extra utility crews were either working in the Northeast on Tuesday or getting close to arriving, officials said.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who asked the Department of Energy for help in coordinating the cleanup and power restoration response, said Tuesday that he was disappointed that the number of out-of-state crews helping in the state was lower than expected. A spokeswoman for the governor said he wasn't criticizing the utilities' response, just trying to do everything he could to get the power on quicker.

About 700 extra workers on Tuesday were helping the 200 regular crews of Connecticut Light & Power Co., the state's largest utility, which had requested 1,000 additional crews. The weekend storm caused more than 830,000 outages in the state — a record — and about 650,000 customers remained in the dark Tuesday.

Bryan said it appeared there were problems in the way extra workers were being distributed in the region.

"If you look at the outages in Connecticut, which basically equal the outages of all the other places combined, you really don't have yet a fair distribution of workers, mutual assistance teams out here doing this," Bryan said.
CLPadmits that they didn't request mutual assistance before the storm hit, as they did in preparing for Hurricane Irene. That was a serious mistake on their part, and one of the reasons why it is going to take as long as it is for power restoration.

The latest figures on outages is here.

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