“Since Tropical Storm Isaias, we’ve been listening to our customers, community leaders and regulators, and we’ve used that feedback to improve our Emergency Response Plan (ERP),” said Eversource President of Electric Operations Craig Hallstrom.
“Storms are happening more frequently and are more intense. Since Isaias we’ve had 10 significant storms in Connecticut that in total caused more than 409,000 outages across the state and we quickly responded and restored power to our customers. We continue working hard to strengthen the system to better withstand the fierce weather we’ve been seeing. While we can’t prevent storms from happening, we understand that customers depend on us to restore power as quickly and safely as possible and we take that responsibility seriously.”
Among the many improvements, Eversource’s team of community liaisons will be able to provide information more quickly to all 149 communities the company serves. The energy company is also rolling out a new online “municipal hub,” which will be a vital tool for liaisons during storms, allowing them to better communicate with municipalities as the company addresses their priorities, critical facilities and blocked roads. The hub’s outage map will allow local emergency officials to add new information about issues as they happen and see real-time updates regarding the status of their critical facilities and blocked roads.In addition, Eversource has improved its storm procedures by:
- Leveraging private contractor crews from the western U.S. to supplement home crews ahead of the storm
- Creating a new team to work directly with municipalities and first responders to prioritize public-safety emergencies, clear blocked roads and speed the response to urgent repairs
- Expanding capacity for online outage reporting and stress-testing the system to handle unusually high call volumes
- Implementing a standard cadence of communications to all communities before, during and after a storm, along with improved training and municipal integration for Community Liaisons
- Increasing outreach to customers with life-threatening medical needs so they stay well-informed during an outage
- Using drone technology and other innovative techniques to more quickly identify what needs to be repaired and in which locations
Along with the revamped ERP, the energy company continues investing tens of millions of dollars annually to strengthen its delivery system, installing thousands of new, stronger poles, thicker “tree wire” and smart grid equipment such as “smart switches” that enable system operators to isolate power outages and remotely reroute power from another source within minutes; “smart fuses” that automatically restore power to customers when a tree limb temporarily contacts wires and help to protect the electric system when a problem is detected; and optical ground wire (OPGW) that enhances communication between company facilities and protects the high-voltage transmission system from severe weather conditions, such as lightning strikes.
Eversource’s comprehensive and robust year-round vegetation management program is also a major component of its preparedness efforts. In 2020, 77 percent of power outages in Connecticut were caused by trees, which is why proactive trimming and removal of trees – to the extent property owners allow – is vital to reduce the possibility of outages in all weather conditions. As the number of dead and dying trees along streets across the state continued to rise, the level of risk to public safety and reliability compounds when property owners refuse to grant permission to conduct proactive vegetation maintenance.
“Even with all of our efforts, a major storm could still cause outages that will last for days,” added Hallstrom. “Storm preparation is a shared responsibility, and we encourage our customers to also be prepared and know what to do before, during and after a storm – right along with us.”
For more information, visit Eversource.com.