WPCNR THE POWER STORY. From Consolidated Edison. Released Saturday 9 A.M. March 10, 2018:
Forget about merely trying to repair damages from last week’s back-to-back storms in the Northeast, said Con Edison’s Chairman and CEO John McAvoy on Friday during a press conference at the New York headquarters .
“With winter storms we’re used to seeing trees and limbs come down and take down our wires and interrupt power for our customers,” McAvoy said. “These storms — the tree damage we’re seeing is much more extensive.
“And the result of that is we’re not just repairing our system, in many cases we’re actually rebuilding it,” he said about the storms’ impacts, which unloaded heavy, wet snow and whipped roaring 70-mph-plus winds through ConEd’s service territory, first on March 2 and then on March 4.
McAvoy said the number of outages that ConEd saw in both storms was “very significantly higher” than what’s typically seen for these levels of storms. “If you compare it to Hurricane Irene, which occurred in 2011, 50 percent more outages in Westchester from the storms than from the hurricane,“ he said.
“What we saw that caused so much damage was a three-fold part of the weather equation. First, extremely high winds with gusts up to 70 miles per hour, a heavy, wet snow that really stuck to the trees, and ground and soil that were saturated and that allowed many trees to become fully uprooted as a result of the high levels of precipitation. This is basically completely a tree event,” McAvoy said.
As of this morning, ConEd reported that crews have restored service for about 187,000 of the roughly 200,000 customers that lost it during that short span of time.
The mutual aid process that’s set up to allow utilities throughout the country to share resources with each other quickly located many crews from other areas to the Northeast to support ConEd.
“We helped Puerto Rico in their time of need. When the second storm hit we decided to recall our employees from Puerto Rico and they are now back and added to the restoration,” added McAvoy.
ConEd currently has 2,000 people working in the field, including about 600 ConEd employees and approximately 1,400 mutual aid workers, said McAvoy. “And we expect that we will get another 400 over the next several days.”
Company officials acknowledged earlier on Friday that some of the toughest work remains, with more than 86 Westchester County roads closed, more than 600 of the outages involving single customers, and numerous locations having severe tree damage.
Crews restoring service will first focus on repairs to critical facilities, such as hospitals, municipal pumping stations and schools, according to a ConEd statement. Customers who are still out of power from last week’s storms will be given “the highest priority for restoration,” the company said, and restoration efforts will continue on a 24-hour basis until every customer is restored.