One Year after Devastating October Snowstorm, NSTAR Highlights System Improvements and Enhanced Communication for Upcoming Storm Season
As the anniversary of last October's major nor'easter approaches, NSTAR is reaffirming its readiness for the next big storm. In the past year, the company has enhanced vegetation removal on its rights-of-way and added advanced automation to reinforce the electric grid; revised its information sharing procedures with cities and towns; and installed web-based tools for improved two-way communication with customers.
“Last fall's historic snowstorm caused unprecedented damage across the region and interrupted power to more than 200,000 NSTAR customers,” said Werner Schweiger, President of NSTAR Electric. “We're now better positioned to more quickly address emergencies, coordinate the restoration process with our communities and communicate with our customers.”
Reaching out to local emergency responders to discuss what worked well and what can be improved is an important part of NSTAR's post-storm assessment. During meetings with every community after the nor'easter, company representatives gained valuable insight on how to ensure close coordination and communication with first responders, as well as improved communication with customers. The company's response has been swift and significant.
Community officials in the NSTAR service area now have exclusive access to a web-based portal providing key information about the status of critical facilities within their respective cities and towns, as well as up-to-date outage and restoration information. Designated community liaisons and a real-time emergency reporting tool will further improve communication with local officials.
Customers, government officials and the media can now view an outage map on the NSTAR website containing community-by-community outage information so they can keep up on the company's progress in restoring outages. All customers, including smartphone users, can now also report outages via the company website.
“No utility can guarantee a damage-free, outage-free storm,” Schweiger added. “NSTAR has taken steps over the past year to enhance its storm response by making the electric system more resilient and offering customers and their communities better access to information.”
Along with improving information sharing, NSTAR has also worked this year to reinforce the durability of its electric system in storm conditions. Although tree-related damage cannot be eliminated in catastrophic storms, the company has taken extra steps to clear vegetation this year along rights-of-way. Crews have also installed additional automation equipment on the system, allowing for a quicker reduction in the number of customers affected by an outage.
A recent merger with Hartford-based Northeast Utilities now provides NSTAR with direct access to additional line workers from other NU operating companies who, when available, can also assist in the local restoration effort.
NSTAR, a Northeast Utilities company (NYSE: NU), transmits and delivers electricity and natural gas to 1.4 million customers in Eastern and Central Massachusetts, including more than one million electric customers in 81 communities and 300,000 gas customers in 51 communities. For more information, please visit our website: www.nstar.com. Friend us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter: @nstarnews.