Tdworld 1428 Connecticut Light Powersandy Tree

Connecticut Light & Power

March 1, 2013
Located on Long Island Sound, CL&P customers are regularly exposed to nature's fury including last autumn's Hurricane Sandy. The combined effects of Sandy

Located on Long Island Sound, CL&P customers are regularly exposed to nature's fury — including last autumn's Hurricane Sandy. The combined effects of Sandy and the trailing Nor'easter resulted in more than 850,000 of CL&P's 1.2 million customers experiencing power outages. Weather conditions brought on by Sandy included winds up to 85 mph (137 kmph) and record-high tides.

For CL&P, the devastation of this storm was similar to Hurricane Irene in August 2011, which knocked out power to 670,000 of its customers. In the year following Hurricane Irene, CL&P underwent significant improvements to its emergency preparedness and response plan, and Sandy provided the first real-life exercise of that revised plan. The result was a strong storm performance, executed with support from CL&P's sister companies and utilities across the United States.

In anticipation of Sandy's landfall, CL&P prestaged both contract and its line personnel. Multiple staging areas supported the strategic deployment of people and materials to the hardest-hit areas. Safety professionals were assigned throughout the service territory to ensure safe restoration, while hundreds of additional personnel were dispatched to guard downed power lines.

CL&P maintained contact with the New England Mutual Aid Group and the New York Mutual Aid Group to secure mutual-aid assistance. Because Mid-Atlantic and New England utilities were significantly affected by the storm, they were unable to release resources at the outset of the restoration.

CL&P's sister utilities — under parent company Northeast Utilities — were able to send crews to Connecticut once they completed their own restorations. Together, Public Service of New Hampshire, Western Massachusetts Electric Co. and NSTAR provided CL&P with 239 line personnel. CL&P also was able to obtain an additional 2,695 line personnel from other utilities and contractors to aid in the restoration. External support personnel included private sources of electricians, patrollers, downed-wire guards and service personnel.

In preparation for the storm, CL&P contacted logistics vendors to prepare staging areas, ensure the utility's mobile command center was operational and confirmed support staff storm assignments. In addition, helicopters were secured for storm damage reconnaissance.

Incident Commander Ken Bowes, CL&P vice president of energy delivery services, opened the emergency operation center at 6 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 28, and he maintained close contact with the system operations center throughout the storm.

CL&P handled more than 661,836 customer calls. Of that total, the interactive voice response system processed calls from 388,178 customers, while 314 customer service representatives answered 213,815 calls. The average speed of the answering of all calls received during the storm event was 6.5 seconds.

The distribution supervisory control and data acquisition system remained operational during the rebuild. The system logged 130,506 alarms and 6,176 operator commands from distribution system operators.

All areas of CL&P's service territory received damage. Falling limbs and trees took down entire sections of poles, wires and associated equipment.

Damage to the CL&P system was quite severe. During the rebuild, 1,727 CL&P poles and 1,036 AT&T poles were replaced. In addition, 2,198 transformers were replaced. More than 100 miles (161 km) of new conductor was installed along with 4,745 crossarms. All of this work was completed without a major safety incident.

The outage system also provided information to the incident command center, which was then used for facilitating dispatch and restoration planning. On the CL&P system, 779 circuits were affected, with a total of 204 feeders locked out. Total outage causes were reported to be 16,460.

CL&P did not encounter major issues in setting up crew staging areas, providing housing (mostly in hotels) or obtaining equipment and supplies. In fact, the utility had purchasing agents to handle the supply chain. To keep crews in the field, vehicles were fueled at night from mobile tankers.

CL&P had 300 downed-wire crews ready to respond quickly when called to ensure lines were de-energized before roads and streets were cleared of downed trees and debris.

One particular initiative paid great customer satisfaction dividends. Typically, utilities work the feeder backbone first, then side taps and then catch individual trouble calls from customers with down service drops. Instead, CL&P decided to tackle down service drops immediately and simultaneously with circuit restoration using contracted electricians, so that when distribution circuits were energized, all customers on the circuit would have power.

According to President and COO Bill Herdegen, “CL&P contracted with 700 licensed electricians and 350 electrical contractors to work through each neighborhood, making temporary fixes to secondary circuits including damaged mastheads and down wire so that all customers would be with service when the distribution circuits were reenergized.”

The CL&P communications team was responsible for providing accurate, timely and consistent messaging. CL&P's Public Information Officer Janine Saunders explained, “Through the public information team, we ensured consistent messages were available to our customers via direct communication, media and social media. We also provided consistent updates to key stakeholders, such as government leaders and town officials.”

CL&P created quite a few initiatives to enhance storm preparedness after lessons learned from Hurricane Irene in 2011. But none, perhaps, had a bigger impact than the strategy employed to improve communications and response at the individual city level.

Rod Kalbfleisch, CL&P's director of system operations and also the deputy incident commander, shared that CL&P had made significant enhancements to the front-end visualization screens of its Oracle outage management system so that the company could not only access but also visually share discrete outage data, both internally and externally. And because CL&P already had Telogis tracking devices in all of its field vehicles and had placed additional Telogis units into to all foreign line and vegetation vehicles coming into its service territory, the utility could track the location and status of all crews working in the field at all times and display crew locations on the visualization screens.

According to Liaison Officer Michael Haeflich, “Liaison personnel were assigned to each of the 149 Connecticut cities that CL&P serves. With discrete crew location and outage location data, CL&P representatives were able to give real-time updates to city officials throughout their service territory. CL&P also assigned a minimum of one line and one tree-trimming crew to each municipality in its service territory to assist in clearing electrical hazards.”

Local officials appreciated that they were not only continuously updated on progress with storm restoration, but they also could be a part of the restoration decisions made at the city level.

CL&P municipal liaisons could show municipal officials on local maps exactly where crews were working. This paid dividends when a representative was asked why crews were not working on their city streets. He or she could pull up a local map on a laptop and point to crews working on nearby feeder circuits, and even drive out with city representatives to meet the crews and show what progress was being made to get power into the city.

This strategy is quite impressive in that it not only provides immediate information and feedback, but it also keeps local officials in the loop on remedial actions taken.

CL&P has sophisticated information technology systems in place to respond to both blue-sky and inclement-weather situations, and is committed to improve processes and communications links, so it will be even more prepared when the next disaster strikes.

Manpower Resources Deployed During Restoration

Outage Causes

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