All the politicians are jumping up and down over the utilities response to the 600,00+ houses without power. Just go to Google News and type Isaias and you can see politicians up and down the east coast are blaming their utility companies because it will take a week or more to restore power to everyone, it is a favor sport of politicians and residents.
Okay first up…
Lack of crews on hand for the hurricane…
Well if the utilities calls up say 200 crews from the neighboring states the bill starts as soon they call them up and they are not cheap because it is probably travel expenses and time and half from the time they report to work. What happens if it turns that they only need a 100 crews who will pay for the 100 crews that just sat around? Do you think that the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) will allow the cost to be passed on to the rate payers?
The damage from hurricane Isaias had to be survey first to know what type, where, and how much damage the storm cause. A long time ago during a storm I woke up in the middle of the night in the dark after a storm passed and a light shown through the bedroom window. It was a pickup truck from the utility shining a spotlight on the wires as it drove down the street looking for problems. Now picture them doing that for every power line in the state.
I had a friend who worked for Eversource in the engineering department when a storm like Isaias hit they put him in one of those pickup trucks to check the damage. He hated it because he was salaried and all he got was a pat on the back and a hot meal while some of the line crews were making around a hundred dollars an hour.
There were complaints about not having any crews out until morning…
Overnight the winds were still too strong for bucket trucks. For safety reasons they cannot not use the trucks in winds over a certain speed. How would you like to work in a bucket swaying back and forth in the wind with 15,000 volts just feet away?
A mayor complained about getting the power back on for the home owners.
Which would you connect first? A home or a hospital, firehouse or an emergency dispatcher?
Which would you connect first? A wire that goes to single home or a wire that goes to five hundred homes?
It is all about prioritizing the repairs.
My house is right behind a state road and the power lines feed the whole south end of town so when that goes out that is one of the first lines fixed. Think of the power network as a tree you start out at the trunk and work your way out to the branches that way you get the power back on for the greatest number of customers quickly.
The governor said that he wants the PURA to look into where all the money went to clear the right-of-way from trees.
Well the power company crews came down the state road behind my house and I got a letter from them asking permission to clear out their right-of-way. Not every neighbor signed the letters. When they did clear out the right-of-way they only cleared out the overhanging branches and trees twenty feet from the wires.
Picture tree crew coming to your door and asking to cut down the tree that you planted when your children were born, that tree is now 60 foot maple and the power lines are on the other side of the street would you say yes to cutting down the tree?
When I was driving around Wednesday on the way home from the grocers I saw a lot of trees down, not just branches and some of them fell all the way across the road and bring down the wires. (Shh… I drove under one that was being held up by the wires. I figured that it was leaning on it for over 24 hours and it had not collapsed yet.)
Everything is a trade off.
Do you want to have the trees cut 60, 70 feet from the power lines where nothing can fall on them?
Do you want to pay for the utilities to increase their line crews to cover emergencies?
So do what I do?
I have enough food for two weeks (water… I have city water and if that fails I have a 40 gallon hot water tank.), I have flashlights, and a battery powered radio. If I need to charge anything during an outage I bought a 12V DC to 120V AC inverter that I can plug into my car. And if I think that we are going to lose power for an extended period of time I pack the freezer with as many plastic milk or juice cartons of water and ziploc bags of water that I can fit in it. If I lose power I transfer half of the containers of ice to the refrigerator side and cover the refrigerator with a couple of blankets for insulation.