August 17, 2022 – With hurricane season in full swing, Norwich Public Utilities (NPU) is preparing to respond to severe weather and has enhanced how it will communicate with customers during emergencies.
“While we are very proud of our storm-response performance in the past, we will never be complacent,” said Chris LaRose, General Manager of NPU. “Providing our customers with the best possible information before and during a storm is a critical part of our strategy during any major storm.”
As part of its enhanced customer communications efforts, NPU is implementing two new technologies.
First, an outage map will be added to the NPU website (www.norwichpublicutilities.com) to provide customers with a snapshot of outages across the city. The map will update every ten minutes and display 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.
Second, NPU will make greater use of their ‘robo-call’ system, CodeRed, to make automated calls to customers to provide updates on outages, progress with restoration, and important safety messages. While automated calls have been used on a limited basis by NPU in the past, in a major storm, NPU will communicate with customers via CodeRed on a regular basis. NPU is encouraging customers to confirm that NPU has the most up-to-date phone numbers for these calls.
In addition, NPU’s standard preparations have been completed and confirmed, including:
- Tree trimming – Throughout the summer, NPU line crews and two contractors’ tree crews have been working on tree trimming and removing heavy vegetation, especially vine growth in targeted areas.
- Contractors crews – NPU has confirmed the availability of two contractor tree crews that are assigned to NPU at all times; an additional six contractor tree crews will be available to respond during a major storm 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 impacts most of New England, crews from the APPA mutual aid network would make crews from other parts of the country available to assist. NPU regularly participates in mutual aid coordination meetings with both organizations.