SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

November 5, 2012

Our view: Utilities' performance improves after Sandy

Utilities seem to have gotten the message from angry customers and state regulators. Their performance in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy was much improved over that in storms over the past few years.

Sandy’s sustained high winds last Monday took out power to hundreds of thousands of customers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The damage gets much more extensive as one approaches the storm’s Southern New Jersey landfall.

By today, however, power has been restored to most, if not all, customers on the North Shore and in the Merrimack Valley and southern New Hampshire.

That’s a big improvement from utilities’ performance in last year’s Halloween snowstorm, which left some people without power for a week or more. The slow repairs angered customers. So, too, did the arrogance displayed by utility officials. Marcy Reed, Massachusetts president for National Grid, infamously said last fall about the delay in restoring power: “We do live in New England, and this is what the weather is.”

Reed had quite a different tone this time around.

“Every storm offers an opportunity for us to do better,” Reed told Eagle-Tribune reporter Bill Kirk. “While we do believe we improved our performance since last fall’s storms, we will continue to work in partnership with our communities to further enhance our preparedness, restoration and communications processes so that we can better serve our customers.”

Indeed, the performance of National Grid and other utilities has improved.

National Grid said most of its Essex County customers would have power restored by midnight Thursday. Reed said the Merrimack Valley was among the hardest-hit areas of the state.

In southern New Hampshire, Unitil finished its repairs Wednesday. Public Service of New Hampshire expected to complete repairs by midnight Thursday. New Hampshire Electric Co-op also expected to have power restored Thursday to all but a few isolated customers.

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