Power companies warn of widespread blackouts


With powerful gusts of wind, heavy rains and dangerous flooding expected to soon affect parts of the region as Hurricane Henri approaches, authorities in the New York and New England metropolitan area are warning guard against possible generalized power failures.

There is a precedent for concern.

When Tropical Storm Isaias ravaged the region last summer, nearly three million customers lost power in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. Some have seen significant delays in its restoration – and this storm has not affected directly.

Hurricane Gloria, the last hurricane to make landfall on Long Island, left 1.5 million homes without power in 1985.

Here’s how the power companies are preparing for Henri:

  • The storm could make landfall Long island, with most of the area under hurricane watch. The PSEG Long Island utility said more than 1,200 contractors and additional crews have been brought in to help. But he warned customers that outages could last from seven to 10 days – or up to two weeks if the forecast worsens.

  • Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said power companies in other parts of the New York State who could be heavily affected by the storm, including National Grid and Con Edison, had also brought in private contractors and additional staff to help restore power. “I told them clearly,” he said on Saturday, “this is what we pay the power companies for, to be prepared for storms”.

  • In New Jersey, the state’s largest utility, Public Service Electric & Gas, asked customers to prepare for possible debris and falling power lines, but did not provide an estimate of potential power losses.

  • Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts warned that Henri could lose electricity to at least 100,000 residents – and possibly up to 300,000 -.

  • The utility Eversource, which supplies electricity to around 1.2 million customers in Connecticut, said at least half of them could be without power for several days after the hurricane. The company said it had canceled scheduled vacations for some staff so they could help with the restoration efforts.

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