Press-Republican

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February 18, 2013

Response to Wilmington power outage criticized

WILMINGTON — Officials are criticizing what they say was a distressing lack of information from New York State Electric and Gas when a windstorm recently knocked out power to 750 homes in the Town of Wilmington.

The Jan. 31 storm destroyed property, uprooted trees and took down power lines in his community, Supervisor Randy Preston (I-Wilmington) told the County Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee at Tuesday’s meeting.

“I could not get answers out of NYSEG (about power restoration). The only answer I could get was the same answer everyone else got — noon tomorrow. We bought food. We were putting shelters in place. Then, within 30 minutes (of the last call to NYSEG) homes were coming back on.”

‘TAXED ABILITIES’

In response to a Press-Republican query about the handling of the outage, NYSEG Communications Manager Clayton Ellis said by email Wednesday that the storm was a severe one that affected many parts of their infrastructure in the counties they serve and taxed their ability to respond quickly.

“At first, we were keeping up with the damage and restoring power to customers, but we soon had to shift our efforts solely to responding to downed wires incidents across the region to ensure public safety. Once our crews in Wilmington made all known downed-wires incidents safe, and as they were preparing to travel elsewhere to assist with other downed wires incidents, we identified one issue affecting the 750 customers in Wilmington and directed a nearby crew to make repairs before moving on to other ‘make safe’ efforts.

“So, while our initial estimated time of restoration for those customers was noon on Friday, Feb. 1, we were able to restore service at approximately 4 p.m. on Thursday, just about four hours after the outage occurred,” he continued.

‘CHANGING CONDITIONS’

Ellis said the storm brought 50-mph winds with it that put 10,000 customers out of power across their service area.

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