NPU preparing for hurricane season
NORWICH – With hurricane season underway, Norwich Public Utilities (NPU) is preparing to respond to any severe weather that could impact electric service to its customers in the weeks and months ahead.
“In New England, the weather can change quickly and dramatically, so it is critical that we are prepared to meet the needs of our customers at any time,” said Chris LaRose, General Manager of NPU. “We take great pride in our storm response as an organization, but will never be complacent – we know that our customers are counting on us whenever there is a storm.”
Ahead of any major storm, NPU confirms that it has the appropriate materials, equipment, and personnel in place to respond to an emergency; in some instances, NPU may pre-stage vehicles and equipment across the city to allow for a more immediate response to an emergency.
NPU and City officials – the Mayor, City Manager, Norwich Police Department, Norwich Fire Department, Norwich Public Works, as well as Uncas Health and American Ambulance Services will take part is a table-top exercise on August 28 to simulate the arrival of a major storm in Norwich. This type of exercise allows officials to evaluate and adjust any practices or policies to assure an effective response to a storm.
In addition, NPU’s standard preparations are being completed and confirmed, including:
- Tree trimming – Throughout the year, NPU line crews and two contractors tree crews work on tree trimming and removing heavy vegetation, especially vine growth in targeted areas.
- Contractors crews – NPU has confirmed the availability of additional contractor tree crews that are assigned to the utility; additional assistance will be secured by NPU if necessary.
- Mutual aid – NPU has mutual aid agreements with the Northeast Public Power Association (NEPPA) and the American Public Power Association (APPA). If a storm is localized to lower New England, crews from other NEPPA members will be able to send line crews to assist with restoration efforts in Norwich. If a storm is more wide-reaching and impacting most of New England, crews from the APPA mutual aid network would make crews from other parts of the country available to assist.
NPU will also utilize two important technologies to provide regular updates to the public before and during a major storm:
- The Outage Map on the NPU website (norwichpublicutilities.com) provides customers with a snapshot of outages across the city. The map updates every ten minutes and displays clusters of customers out of service, not individual homes or businesses. Should a customer see that an outage is impacting their neighborhood on the outage map, a call into NPU’s Customer Service Center will not be necessary.
- NPU will also use its ‘robo-call’ system, CodeRed, to make automated calls to customers to provide updates on outages, progress with restoration, and important safety messages. NPU is encouraging customers to confirm that NPU has the most up-to-date phone numbers for these calls.
Forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center a division of the National Weather Service, are predicting a near-normal hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean this year, with a 40% chance of a near normal season, a 30% chance of an above normal season, and a 30% chance of a below-normal season. This equates to a range of 12-17 named storms with winds of 39 miles per hour or higher.