As a major winter storm heads toward New England this weekend with sustained strong winds and significant snow, Norwich Public Utilities (NPU) is preparing for its impact, which could include power outages.
“We are encouraging every NPU customer to follow the course of the storm very closely and to be prepared for the possibility of power outages between Friday afternoon and Sunday,” said Chris LaRose, General Manager of NPU. “We are preparing for a potential blizzard and want our customers to do the same.”
NPU is urging customers to prepare their homes and businesses for challenging weather between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning, which could include strong winds, heavy snow, and low visibility on the roads. Basic preparations include:
- Prepare an emergency preparedness kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.
- Make sure you have alternative charging methods for your phone or any critical device that requires power; charge cell phones and any battery-powered devices.
- Know where the manual release lever of your electric garage door opener is located and how to operate it.
- Purchase ice or freeze water-filled plastic containers to help keep food cold during a power outage.
- Fill your car’s gas tank as gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps. If you use your car to re-charge devices, do NOT keep the car running in a garage, partially enclosed space, or close to a home, this can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
- If you are going to use an electric generator, make sure that it has been installed by a licensed electrician; a generator that has been improperly installed can send electricity back onto NPU’s electrical system, creating a potentially lethal hazard for our employees. Only operate a generator outdoors.
- If you are dependent on an electrical-powered medical device, make sure you have a back-up plan – a secondary source of power or another place to go after the storm – in the event of a power outage at your residence. If there is any doubt about your electricity supply, call 9-1-1 immediately.
Over the past two days, NPU has been following the path of the storm very closely and taking all necessary pre-storm precautions, including:
- Having all vehicles inspected and fueled
- Confirming adequate supplies of all necessary materials and equipment
- Assuring appropriate staffing for all critical functions of NPU including the line and gas departments, customer service, communications, GIS, Information Technology, maintenance mechanics, and engineers
- Testing of all internal communications and external equipment
- Having a contractor tree crew available on standby
- Reaching out to other utilities to discuss mutual aid assistance
NPU’s water treatment plants and wastewater treatment plant will be staffed throughout the storm and have backup generators in the event of a power loss at any facility.
If circumstances warrant, the Emergency Operations Centers (EOC) for the City of Norwich and NPU at 16 South Golden Street in Norwich can be activated in less than an hour.
In the event of widespread outages, NPU will provide regular updates on the NPU Facebook page and to media outlets with outage information and restoration projections whenever possible. NPU will also deploy its automated calling system to provide updates and information to customers as necessary.
NPU’s Customer Service Center will receive calls at (860) 887-2555 throughout the weekend.
NPU reminds the public that any downed utility wire should be assumed to be energized and a potentially lethal hazard. Report any downed wires to 9-1-1 immediately.