Governor Shumlin visits CVPS headquarters, praises workers

With more than 270 bucket trucks, diggers, track and other all-terrain vehicles, crews flooded some of the isolated areas in central and southern Vermont today.

As of 5 pm, more than 63,000 of the 73,000-plus customer outages have been restored, with 9,500 remaining. Addison and Bennington County outages were restored today, while work continues in Windsor, Rutland, Windham and Orange counties.Governor Peter Shumlin today visited the CVPS storm command center on Post Road in Rutland before he went to the survey road and electrical system damage in central Vermont. CVPS President Larry Reilly and Senior Vice President of Operations, Engineering and Customer Service Joe Kraus took the governor on a tour of central scheduling, the planning chief’s area, and the logistics planning center. Matt McCoy, a retired brigadier general in the Army National Guard, who heads up CVPS’s logistics group, told the governor that the team delivered more than 800 lunches to our field workers through the state today.

“We really appreciate the administration’s support, especially the support of the Agency of Transportation, the Department of Public Service and Vermont Emergency Management,” Kraus said. “We could not do this without the assistance and support of our state and town officials, and of course our customers, which have been wonderful.”

CVPS crews poured into the town of Rochester to cheers from residents who were gathered at the town offices. Crews fanned out across the town and neighboring communities, putting up downed power lines and planning how to rebuild lines that were washed away.  Meanwhile, a small army of electrical maintenance workers began work to clean up and rebuild the Rochester Substation, the heart of the local grid. A portable substation was also dispatched.

Many workers were showered with well-wishes. “I think I’ve been told ‘I love you’ more in the last five hours than in the last five years,” said CVPS spokesman Steve Costello, who went into Rochester with line crews and delivered hundreds of local Vermont newspapers to residents desperate for information.

Crews in Windham County poured into the East Dover area today with bucket trucks, two digger vehicles and tree workers to begin work to build a new temporary line to get power to East Dover village, which they hope to complete tomorrow. CVPS workers have also been clearing road in that area as they go. Crews also delivered poles to the Wardsboro and Jamaica area on Route 100 between Route 30 and Wardsboro village to do all the repair work they could, in anticipation of Route 100 road construction work.

“We’re doing any repair work we can do now, so that when we do get access through Route 100, we can energize as many customers as possible as quickly as we can, once we have access,” said Brattleboro Operations Supervisor Dave Miller.

Crews out of our Springfield District poured into the towns of Weston, Chester, Cavendish, Rockingham and Cambridgeport. “We had bucket trucks, diggers, excavators and all-terrain vehicles all throughout these areas today, and in some cases we are rebuilding new lines in new places,” said Springfield Operations Supervisor Ed Whittemore.

“Crews made really good progress in Mt. Holly and Killington today,” said Operations Supervisor Chris Gandin. Crews brought nine transmission and distribution bucket trucks up the mountain, along with a digger bucket, track bucket vehicle, four-wheeler and another all-terrain vehicle, along with tree contractors.

CVPS continued to caution that complete restoration remains dependent on road access, and could take weeks for customers who are still isolated. A specific CVPS support team is continuing to work on travel strategies with local and state Agency of Transportation officials to coordinate alternative access points to washed out routes throughout the state, but it’s difficult work and will take time.

Crews and support staff have been working 18- and 20-hour shifts since before the storm began, and will continue to do so until the restoration work is done.

CVPS urged Vermonters to use extra caution around waterways, many of which are still flowing at very high levels.  “A lot of the smaller rivers, creeks and brooks may have dropped back considerably, but the water is still moving much faster than normal,” said Mike Scarzello, CVPS’s generation asset manager.

If a customer’s home or business was flooded, and their electric service panel was affected by water, it has to be examined by a qualified electrician before CVPS can restore service.

Up-to-date outage numbers (by town) can be found at: http://www.cvps.com/CustomerService/outages/ and http://vtoutages.com/

CVPS offered several safety tips for coping with the outages:

  • STAY AWAY FROM DOWNED POWER LINES. Don’t touch or even go near downed wires! These wires can be energized and can cause serious injuries or death. If the line is blocking the road or in contact with a vehicle with people inside, call your local police or fire emergency number first. Then call CVPS. Instruct others to keep at least 50 feet away, and keep pets and livestock away as well.
  • Assume all objects touching the power line are also energized. Never attempt to remove trees or limbs from any utility lines! Notify CVPS of the situation.
  • If using a generator, read and follow the owner’s manual before starting the generator. Never operate a generator inside any structure or near a structure. Use a transfer switch to ensure electricity is not accidentally fed onto a line where line crews must work.
  • Keep freezers and refrigerators closed as much as possible to prevent food spoilage.
  • If power goes out, turn off all electrical appliances except one light so you’ll know when service returns. Then, turn equipment back on slowly.

 

 

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