Lights on throughout Franklin County

It’s lights on in Franklin County. Much of the power outages have been restored since Hurricane Sandy gently breezed through western Massachusetts on Monday night.

Western Massachusetts Electric Co., the main utility provider in the county, has restored all of its customers, Priscilla Ress, a spokesperson with WMECO said.

The number of WMECO customers, including those outside Franklin County, left in the dark at any given time Monday afternoon peaked at 5,000. A total of 1,250 WMECO customers in the county were without power. With their higher elevation, the hilltowns were the hardest hit.

The utility company hurried to restore power to its customers more effiencently than it had after Tropical Storm Irene and last October’s snowstorm. From Springfield to the Berkshires, WMECO, in total, had restored 40,000 customers from 8 a.m. Monday to 10 a.m. Tuesday.

National Grid is the second utility in the county. It provides power to parts of Charlemont, Hawley, Heath, Monroe, New Salem, Orange, Rowe, Shutesbury, Warwick and Wendell.

The outages for National Grid customers in Franklin County peaked at 96 customers in Charlemont, 84 customers in Hawley, 590 customers in Heath, six customers in Monroe, eight customers in New Salem, 62 customers in Orange, 196 customers in Rowe, 608 customers in Shutesbury, 70 customers in Warwick and 107 customers in Wendell.

The number of outages statewide peaked Monday morning at 237,000.

As of 2 p.m. Thursday, National Grid was still working to restore power for eight homes in New Salem, 11 in Orange, and 39 in Warwick, according to figures provided by spokeswoman, Erin Del Llano.

National Grid expected to have power back on for all Massachusetts customers by midnight on Thursday. The utility reported that 98 percent of its customers in the state have been restored in two days. About 8,400 customers are still without power.

Like WMECO, National Grid was under scrutiny by the state after the long delay in restoring power after Tropical Storm Irene. Both utilities have employed new practices this time around.

“National Grid has employed some new practices and techniques from lessons learned last year during Irene and applied them to a more successful restoration effort for Hurricane Sandy,” Del Llano said.

Both WMECO and National Grid have stated they have made improvements to damage assessment, allowing them to send out crews earlier, early planning and prepartion, which started last week, more proactive work with the cities and towns on tree trimming operations, and improved communications, both internally and externally, with community leaders and directly to customers.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at:
kmckiernan@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 268

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