Power outage time after Sandy not extraordinary

By Jonathan Fahey

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Nov. 16 2012 10:23 p.m. MST

This is all part of a utility's job, of course. Delivering power reliably is the single most important task for an electric utility. Without question, some do a better job of planning, managing logistics and communication with customers and local officials than others.

"Not every utility is the same, not every utility is in the same state of readiness," says David Wright, president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.

EPRI's Mansoor said one indication that planning in the region affected by Sandy was good is that utilities did not run low on workers, poles, transformers, or other supplies. "Crews were available, spare parts were available," he said. "That was not an issue in this recovery."

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has defended the response of the utilities in his state, and perhaps for good reason. Sixty-five percent of New Jersey utility customers lost power, 2.6 million homes and businesses. Compared with other big storms, New Jersey's utilities restored power to most customers in the shortest amount of time for a state with such a high percentage of outages.

A common complaint from residents throughout the region: The lack of accurate communication about when power would be restored.

Redpath, who is served by Jersey Central Power & Light, said he understands that the restoration job was enormous and would have understood if it took utilities three or four weeks to restore power. But for an entire week he was told almost daily that power would be restored the next day. He said he just happened to discover the power had finally been restored when he noticed the lights were on his neighbor's porch while driving by.

"I think (JCP&L) did a phenomenal job of marshaling resources, and the people on the ground did a phenomenal job," he said. "The problem was a combination of misinformation and no information. We would have managed differently if we knew what to expect."

Follow Jonathan Fahey on Twitter at twitter.com/JonathanFahey.

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