Storm’s Here, Lights Out: Now what?

During severe storms, falling tree limbs, lightning strikes and high winds can wreak havoc on the electric distribution grid. With widespread outages, it takes time to rebuild the system – and rebuild is an accurate term.

The first step in the restoration process is ensuring the safety of the public and our employees. Not a single service will be restored until we are certain our working men and women have a safe work environment. That often means that a storm must pass before crews are able to even begin to assess the damage.

After ensuring safety, the complex process of power restoration begins. The power grid, from its origin at the generating station to your home or business, is an intricate, interconnected set of wires that transport large volumes of electricity through transformers that “step down” the high voltage from transmission lines, to the low voltage electricity you use.

Most people, shortest time

Restoration plans following outages are designed to get power back on to the most people in the shortest time. Restoring power to critical facilities, including hospitals, police departments, fire stations, water treatment, petroleum, other public health and safety facilities is “critical,” so they are the first focus of restoration.

After critical facilities are back online, the order in which repairs are made follows the path that electricity takes as it comes from the power plants to the customer. Our crews begin with the primary lines that can restore power to thousands of people. Then they move to lateral lines that can affect hundreds; secondary lines that restore dozens; and finally to service lines to individual homes. This is why homes in the same neighborhood can be restored at different times, and why businesses are sometimes restored first, because of their high traffic locations along primary lines.

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Report, Report, Report

Never assume PSEG Long Island is aware of your outage because your entire street is without power. We urge customers to report all outages – because it helps in planning the restoration process.

During a storm or a large outage event, our call centers can become taxed, so we encourage customers to report outages by visiting our mobile-friendly website, www.psegliny.com, or texting “OUT” to PSEGLI (773454). Of course, customers always have the option of calling PSEG Long Island’s Emergency Service line at 800-490-0075. Also, connect with us on Facebook and Twitter for information on storms, outages and more.

While large scale outages are rare, we take great pride in the skill and dedication of our employees. Before, during and after severe weather events, they work around the clock for their customers – often leaving behind their families who are without power as well.

Our goal is to keep the lights on for everyone, all of the time. But if you do experience an outage, please know that behind the scenes, our processes, procedures, training and skilled employees will get electricity flowing back to your home as quickly and safely as possible.

Years after Superstorm Sandy, reliability projects continue

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October 29, 2016 marked the fourth anniversary of Superstorm Sandy–a storm of unrivaled power, and thus, damage. In the wake of its aftermath, we’ve made significant improvements to the Island’s transmission and distribution infrastructure, and communications and technology systems to better serve customers.

Following Superstorm Sandy, we began extensive engineering to help make the energy grid across Long Island and the Rockaways more reliable and resilient, assessing every aspect in need of improvement. From a more aggressive tree-trimming program, to upgrades and storm hardening of vulnerable substations and electric lines, and an enhanced circuit and equipment inspection program, our commitment to dependable power is unwavering.

See what we’re doing in your neighborhood and across the Island to make our system and service storm-ready.

Local Reliability Projects

In March 2015, we announced more than $729 million of federal recovery funds were secured through an agreement between Governor Cuomo and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), under the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance Program. This allowed us to begin projects to further strengthen key electric circuits and improve reliability. Since we’ve secured funding, storm hardening and reliability work has started on more than 75 circuits, covering more than 160 miles, from the Rockaways to Southold. FEMA reliability work is planned for more than 300 circuits, which will cover 1,025 miles across the service territory.

Some of the improvements include upgrading poles to withstand winds up to 135 mph, installing stronger and more resistant wires, tree-trimming to clear conductors and reduce the risk of damage to equipment and installing switching equipment to help reduce the number of customers affected by an outage.

20322981281_a628c11f65_oSubstation and Infrastructure Upgrades

Flooding from Superstorm Sandy caused extensive damage to several substations across the island. In order to ensure substations are better able to withstand extreme weather and potential flooding, we identified 14 projects at ten substations, including Arverne, Rockaway Beach, Far Rockaway, Woodmere, Barrett, Park Place and Long Beach that needed storm hardening.

We’ve already finished work on six of the substations and are currently working on the remaining four by repairing and/or replacing critical equipment and installing flood sensors and flood prevention barriers. Additionally, storm hardening work is being done on transmission lines and distribution circuits. About nine transmission lines are being rebuilt and strengthened to minimize interruptions, including reconstructing lines in inaccessible areas and many distribution lines are being upgraded and cleared of vegetation.

Tree Trimming

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We’ve also enhanced our tree trimming program. We’ve implemented industry best practices designed to reduce tree-related outages, increase reliability and improve customer satisfaction. Vegetation-related outages have decreased, and we’ve achieved significant improvement in transmission reliability. We haven’t seen a tree-related outage on the entire transmission system in two years and there has been a 60 percent improvement in distribution reliability for circuits trimmed. And, for increased reliability, crews create a greater clearance around trees and distribution power lines, pruning to 12 feet above, 8 feet to the side, and 10 feet below high voltage lines. Annual aerial inspections of the transmission system also help detect equipment issues and vegetation encroachment.

Safety Partnerships

Our top priority is always the safety of its customers and crews. Along with our own resources and tips to be prepared, we want you to also take advantage of several resources available through its partnerships. BereadyLI.org is a collaboration between The United Way of Long Island, 2-1-1 Long Island and PSEG Long Island. Aimed at helping Long Island residents prepare for disasters, bereadyLI.org is an interactive, comprehensive and easy-to-use website, compiling critical information applicable to children, the elderly, those with special needs and even pets in an effort to simplify the process of being prepped before disaster strikes. By working with experts in the field, the site compiles the most relevant and crucial information for residents to prepare for whatever Mother Nature brings our way.

For more details on current projects, storm tips and more, visit www.psegliny.com like PSEG Long Island on Facebook and follow on Twitter @PSEGLI.

Look Up!

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Walk around any neighborhood and look up.  Chances are you’ll see a utility pole with wires and other equipment. And for good reason. Utility poles dot the landscape of every town around the state and most of the country. They form the highway above us that keeps everyday life in order.  In fact, there are about 180 million utility poles across the United States – that’s about one pole for every other person in the country.

Utility poles have been around since the mid-1800s when they were originally erected to carry telegraph wires. The rise of electricity brought a new use to the poles. Outfitted with insulators, the poles could carry electricity from generating stations to individual homes and businesses.  Today these poles are still the backbone of our electrical grid.

Ever wonder how the poles support the delivery of electricity or what these poles hold? Here’s your guide to the anatomy of a pole and some interesting facts you may not already know about them.

PSEG Long Island has 545,068 poles across its service territory. Of that, 324,692 are owned by the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA); 214,977 are owned by Verizon; and 5,399 are consumer-owned. On Long Island, the ownership of the utility poles is established via an agreement between the LIPA and Verizon.

Poles come in different sizes.  Utility poles on the island range between 20 feet and 140 feet tall. The most common PSEG Long Island pole is 35 feet and and there are 256,354 of them.

Anatomy of a utility pole

 

Power lines are not the only wires on a pole.  Wires at the top of the pole deliver your electricity and belong to PSEG Long Island. Wires below the electric portion  deliver your telephone, cable TV and fiber optic services and are owned by those providers.

Transformers help provide the right amount of power for your home or business.  The big barrel that looks like an oil drum is the transformer that reduces voltage so customers can use it. Transformers bring the electricity down to a safe level – enabling our  appliances to work properly.

Power lines don’t actually touch the poles. Instead, insulators – the things that look like dinner plates or cups attached to the line — prevent energized wires from contacting each other. And remember, that if a wire ever comes down, stay away and call PSEG Long Island at 800-490-0075 to report it right away.

Poles are made of wood and are recycled when taken out of use. Most utility poles in the United States are made of southern yellow pine and have a life of approximately 25 to 50 years.  Once they’ve reached their useful lives, poles are burned for energy or recycled, depending on the material used.

So next time you turn on the lights, it’s not magic; it’s that pole outside that safely provides electricity at the flip of a switch.

Hurricane Season Is Here & We’re Ready

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For many, early June marks the precursor to summer, filled with graduations, BBQs, boating and more. And whether you’re gearing up for beach season or celebrating the end of the school year, it’s important to remember that this season can also bring some fierce weather.

June 1 is the official start of hurricane season and it’s predicted to be a busy one. But don’t let the threat of a storm rain on your parade. Here at PSEG Long Island, we’ve been working hard to improve our infrastructure and expand the ways we communicate with our customers to ensure reliability and timely information during a hurricane or any wild weather event.

WHAT WE’RE DOING:

In May, we partnered with representatives from the Long Island Power Authority, the New York Department of Public Service and various town leaders for our annual hurricane preparedness drill. The day-long exercise replicated a collective response to a hurricane, and covered all aspects of safety, logistics and communicating with the public. And in the fourth year since Superstorm Sandy, the drill continues to remind us how important it is to coordinate with all municipalities. The drill also gave us an opportunity to showcase our Mobile Command Center, a hub of technology set up in heavily damaged areas during large-scale emergencies and outages. The Command Center features Wi-Fi, televisions with satellite display newsfeeds, work stations and more to help our crews work faster and more efficiently.

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Feb. 24, 2015 storm damage

Dave Daly, our president and chief operating officer, stressed the importance of communication at a May 31 press conference along with Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone ;Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, Long Island Red Cross Interim CEO Liz Barker; and Bob DeMarinis, vice president of maintenance and construction New York’s Gas National Grid, saying:

“With regard to being ready for storms, we have made a number of enhancements, starting with technology enhancements that will allow us first and foremost to communicate more effectively with elected officials, with local communities and with our customers,” he said.

IMG_0476“As the county executives have both mentioned, communications during these events are absolutely critical. Technology will also help us to communicate more effective, efficiently, particularly when we bring in thousands of crews during a storm such as Superstorm Sandy, to dispatch and deploy those crews in a more effective and efficient manner and keep them productive.”

PSEG Long Island has also taken big steps to bolster our system for storms, spending more than $500 million on equipment upgrades in just two years. We’ve put in a new substation in South Manor to help the growing need for electricity in Brookhaven; expanded the Amagansett substation in East Hampton to mitigate voltage risks; and have installed a new transmission cable between East Garden City and Meadowbrook substations to maintain reliable service to Nassau University Medical Center and the surrounding area, among other major projects.

Similarly, we’re continuing our storm hardening program, funded by FEMA, to strengthen the main-line primary wires that were most damaged by Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy. This also includes tree removal, strengthening the poles, and installing stronger and more resilient wires.

To see what we’re doing in and around your neighborhood, visit our Current Initiatives section.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

While PSEG Long Island continues to prepare for whatever the summer weather may bring, we encourage you to do the same. Start by registering for MyAlerts – a quick and easy way to report power outages and receive status updates by text. Simply text REG to PSEGLI (773454). Also, take the time now to bookmark our mobile-friendly Outage Center.

Here are a few other suggestions for how to get ready for a storm:

  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for up-to-date information on outages, restoration, etc.
  • Charge cell phones, tablets and other devices
  • Compile a list of emergency phone numbers, including our Emergency Outage line at 1-800-490-0075 and our Customer Service number, 1-800-490-0025
  • Fill up your car’s fuel tank
  • Make sure to have cash available
  • Create an emergency communication plan
  • Discuss storm prep and safety with your family