By Joanne Tucker
Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P) is undergoing several major changes with a facility consolidation and deployment of a new technology that will be used during emergency response. The utility was also recently given a final review for its restoration response to Hurricane Sandy.
CL&P Expects Facility Changes to Improve Service
By the fourth quarter of 2014, CL&P plans to close a service facility in Greenwich, Conn. and move it approximately nine miles to the nearby town, Stamford.
Tricia Modifica, CL&P media relations manager, said that one of the most important factors that the utility looked at was service response times: “We conducted a complete analysis including a drive test to ensure that response times will not be significantly different.”
Certain community members and organizations are concerned about the facility change, such as Greenwich Emergency Management Director Dan Warzoha, who calls the move a “disservice” to the community, according to the Greenwich Time.
But CL&P says that nothing will change in its emergency response since the utility uses strategic staging locations throughout its service area during a storm and for restoration work. “Changes to our service centers will enable us to respond more effectively to all of our customers,” Modifica said. “It's also important to note that our storm response procedures have not changed at all.”
In fact, Modifica told Utility Fleet eNews that by consolidating into a larger service center, CL&P expects that it will better provide service to customers since workers will have access to more resources and materials through one central location. She added that this improvement will remain “whether it’s a ‘blue sky day’ or during a storm.”
In terms of any increase or savings to fuel costs, Modifica did not have any numbers to share. But, overall the move is expected to save on costs, a CL&P spokesperson told Greenwich Time.
In addition to the service trucks and equipment, all 23 employees working out of the Greenwich facility will be relocated to Stamford.
CL&P has a total fleet of nearly 1,400 vehicles, from pickup trucks and vans, to aerial trucks and trailers.
CL&P Implements New Storm Response Technology
Among facility changes, CL&P announced in late October that it will fully implement a new tool by the end of this year to make post-storm restoration more efficient.
The technology uses a laptop and new software that provide real-time data assessing the damage, and will then make estimates as to what equipment and resources are needed to make the fix, as well as an approximate time it will take to make the repairs. Typically these assessments are done by hand.
The new damage assessment tool is expected to drastically increase efficiency of emergency response teams. “Those teams can better plan the work and deploy crews more efficiently with the exact materials needed, and better estimates can be provided regarding the length of time to complete repairs,” according to CL&P.
The tool was developed by CL&P and Clearion Software LLC, a Georgia-based software company that specializes in GPS-enabled technology for utilities.
CL&P is also investing in vegetation management, such as trimming trees along the 4,420 miles of its distribution system.
Connecticut Public Utility Regulatory Authority Issues Final Review
The Connecticut Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA) issued its final review of CL&P’s emergency and restoration response during and after Hurricane Sandy, and stated that its efforts had “clearly improved” from past storms.
PURA cited that CL&P’s communication efforts were more effective, as well as communication with municipal and government officials. “CL&P exercised considerable effort in acquiring resources to prepare for and respond to Storm Sandy,” the review states.
Approximately 850,000 CL&P customers were without power because of Hurricane Sandy back in 2012. CL&P rebuilt more than 1,600 poles and more than 100 miles of wire had to be restrung.
CL&P also received national honors in January 2013 through the Edison Electric Institute’s Emergency Recovery Award. PURA mentioned this award as part of its review, acknowledging that CL&P, once finished with the bulk of its own restoration, assisted neighboring states to help rebuild electrical systems there.