Con Edison Planning $100 Million In Storm Protections For Electrical Delivery System In Westchester
Energy Company Also Improving Information Flow to Customers
Con Edison told municipal leaders in Westchester County today that the company will invest $100 million there the next four years to fortify its overhead electric-delivery system against severe storms like those that struck in March.
The company also has a pilot program to remove hazardous trees on private property, and is making improvements to storm staffing and customer information flow. The enhancements were developed as the result of recommendations from elected officials and community leaders since the March storms.
Tim Cawley, president of Con Edison, told the leaders who gathered at the company’s Westchester headquarters that the investment will include stronger utility poles and wires and “smart” switches on overhead lines to limit outages. The company will also install more “breakaway” wires to reduce a storm’s impact on the system.
“The storms that wrecked our system in March were the continuation of a more-than-decade-long trend of increasingly severe weather events affecting our customers,” Cawley said. “With weather patterns changing and storms becoming more devastating, we want to take every step possible to fortify our equipment and make sure customers have the best restoration information possible so that they can make plans.”
Westchester County Executive George Latimer said: "Storms Riley and Quinn devastated Westchester, and the time and effort it took to recover created a dialogue over where we are and what we can do together to make this better. We are very happy to hear from Con Edison that eight out of 10 major recommendations that came out of it are things that they are implementing. There is no way to predict the weather, but we know that if we are working in advance and cooperatively we have the best possible chance to not repeat last year. We approach this time with a certain vigilance, but a certain cooperation and understanding it takes local municipalities and the professionals of Con Edison together."
The first two winter storms in March, Riley and Quinn, caused 210,000 Con Edison customers to lose electrical service. The company had to rebuild its delivery system in Westchester, which is where more than 155,000 of the outages occurred.
The company has upgraded its information technology systems to improve the accuracy and timeliness of restoration information for customers who lose service during storms. Con Edison is increasing texting to update customers who report outages, so that the customers can make post-storm plans.
The company is also addressing the prime cause of customer outages during wind and snowstorms: trees on private property that fall into power lines. Powerful winds and heavy, wet snow can send trees crashing into poles, wires, and transformers and other equipment and knock customers out of service.
These repairs are challenging because the fallen trees often block streets and have to be removed before Con Edison crews can roll their trucks to the site. A further complication is that wires are often ensnarled in the trees.
Virtually all of the outages the March storms caused in Westchester were the result of fallen trees, often trees that were nearing the end of their life cycle.
The company has begun a pilot program in Cortlandt to remove hazardous trees on private property with the owner’s permission. Con Edison will remove these hazardous trees at no cost to the property owner.
Con Edison has already identified 300 trees that posed an imminent hazard. The company would like to expand the pilot program to other communities in Westchester.
Among other steps Con Edison is taking to improve its storm response are:
- Seeking earlier access to contractors and mutual aid crews to come into the area and help with repairs, including ability to fly crews in from more distant utilities in widespread regional storms.
- The company is working with municipalities to identify critical roads throughout the area and will work with municipalities to clear those roads first. Con Edison is also working with municipalities to identify critical community facilities that would receive priority restoration.
- Additional training for municipal liaisons and improved information for municipalities.The liaisons are Con Edison employees assigned to provide information to municipal governments during outage restoration campaigns.
Customers can report outages and check service restoration status at www.conEd.com or by calling 1-800-75-CONED (1-800-752-6633). When reporting an outage, customers should have their Con Edison account number available, if possible, and report whether their neighbors also have lost power.
Customers who report outages will be called by Con Edison with their estimated restoration times as they become available.
Con Edison is a subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, Inc. [NYSE: ED], one of the nation’s largest investor-owned energy companies, with approximately $12 billion in annual revenues and $49 billion in assets. The utility delivers electricity, natural gas and steam to 3.4 million customers in New York City and Westchester County, N.Y. For financial, operations and customer service information, visit conEd.com. For energy efficiency information, visit coned.com/energyefficiency. Also, visit us on Twitter and Facebook.