BOSTON (CBS/AP) – Major utilities are promising to be ready this time around as Hurricane Sandy takes aim at the region.
National Grid Massachusetts President Marcy Reed announced on Thursday that she expects the utility to have around 5000 workers ready to go when the storm hits.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens reports
We’re going to prove this time that we are completely prepared; and we are going to meet all expectations,” Reed said. “Of course, we don’t control the weather and we don’t know exactly where it’s going to hit. But we will be ready when it comes.”
She’s vowing a fast response and a strong communication effort with customers.
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Reed said the utility is working closely with government agencies, using the same call system that FEMA uses. She also noted that they will set up liaisons for every town to facilitate communication.
Starting Sunday night, National Grid call centers will be staffed around the clock. They also plan to keep up a significant presence on social media during this storm.
In case of outages, you’ll be able to text “Storm” to “NGRID” (64743) to find out when your power will be restored.
National Grid says it has submitted preparation plans to the Governor’s and is ready to go as soon as the storm hits.
NStar officials say they are on high alert and workers are ready to go.
“We’ve worked throughout the year enhancing our storm response plans and we stand ready to address any damage as quickly and safely as possible,” said Werner Schweiger, President of NSTAR Electric.
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NStar says the number of crews available to help will depend on the extent of damage.
Utilities face the threat of stiff fines if their response falls short of expectations, officials said. Both utilities came under heavy scrutiny over slow responses to the October 2011 snow storm.
Attorney General Martha Coakley has recommended a combined $30 million in fines against National Grid, NStar and Western Massachusetts Electric Co. for problems after Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011 and a surprise snowstorm last October. The Department of Public Utilities is expected to rule on those penalties next month.
Richard Sullivan, the state’s Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary, said utilities will be under strict scrutiny this time around. He said each has filed emergency plans with the state and are contracting with crews as far away as Washington state to deal with expected outages.
“It would appear that the number of crews they have put on call is sufficient, but we are measuring this response in terms of the results on the ground and not necessarily the numbers,” he said.
State officials urged utilities to synchronize the activities of crews assigned to repair lines with those assigned to clear trees felled by high winds, citing that as a major obstacle after last year’s storms.
“Though there were a lot of crews, the tree crews and the line crews were not necessarily well coordinated. A line crew would go someplace where the power was down, but because there wasn’t someone there to remove the tree that had caused the power line to come down, they couldn’t deal with it,” Patrick said.
Governor Patrick said Friday he had canceled a scheduled Sunday campaign trip to Florida on behalf of President Barack Obama and would reassess other campaign activities planned for later in the week.
He urged residents to take precautions in advance of the storm, including making sure their homes are equipped with working flashlights, food and water, extra medications and pet supplies.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Bernice Corpuz reports on preps
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reports from MEMA
WBZ-TV’s Sera Congi reports on coastal preps from Marshfield
WBZ-TV’s Paul Burton reports on coastal preps from Sandwich
WBZ-TV’s Bree Sison has more on the utility companies
WBZ-TV’s Joe Joyce reports from Martha’s Vineyard
(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)