Utilities Say They'll Have Rapid Response Crews, More Trucks, And Will Make Better Use Of Technology To Communicate With Customers

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Earlier this year, storms left families without power for more than a week. So utilities that service homes in Westchester County are already planning for winter, with new plans to keep the power on.

CBS 2’s Clark Fouraker has more on how utilities plan on keeping trees from blocking roads and power lines up.

Back-to-back storms caused one of the worst and longest power outages in Con Ed’s history. After enduring meetings filled with reprimands from the Westchester County Board of Legislators, Con Ed said it is adding about 15 linemen and establishing crews that can come in a time of need.

“We’ve established a fleet of trucks for use,” Con Ed spokesman Steven Paris said. “We’re expanding text and email — less reliance on calls.”

Nor'easter damage

Con Ed workers were hard at work throughout Westchester County on March 4, 2018, trying to repair downed power lines following the nor’easter on March 1. (Photo: Con Edison)

The key to those crews working will be an air traffic controller of sorts, a liaison coordinating linemen and municipalities’ bush-removal crews.

“Trees were major event in the March storms,” NYSEG spokesman Chuck Eves said.

In March, downed trees and downed lines were two of the biggest problems when trying to get the power back on.

“I’ve paid over 400 Con Ed bills on time for 34 years. For what? Just to get left in the dark when something happens,” New Rochelle resident Susan Elizabeth told CBS2 back on March 6.

“Half the neighborhood is out because they can’t live in their homes without heat and electricity,” Bedford resident Autri Gutta said two days later.

1002nopower Con Ed, NYSEG: We Will Respond Better To Storms This Winter

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MOREWestchester Legislators Meet With Reps From Con Ed And NYSEG

Lawmakers are optimistic that the utilities have developed a plan, using more people and money in an effort to prevent a storm from hurting the grid at all. However, they still have their guard up. They want to make sure that if the power goes out, residents have accurate information about outages.

“We got communication that was inaccurate and information that was totally wrong. We’ve got to know what you’re doing to prepare for these storms. What are you doing to be able to respond quickly after a storm,” Board of Legislators Chairman Ben Boykin said.

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Utilities say they will do a better job getting the word out.

“There was misinformation sent out, and that’s where confidence eroded. Smart meter data will help that,” Con Ed’s Parisi said.

The committee is making it clear the pressure is on, and it will make sure utilities are held accountable should a repeat of last winter happen again.

Con Ed said it expects to spend $100 million over the next four years to strengthen the power grid, adding that’s the same amount it spent after Hurricane Sandy.