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As Tropical Storm Isaias approaches, Massachusetts utilities get ready for potential outages

Source: 
MassLive.com

SPRINGFIELD -- Out-of-state utility crews working for Eversource staged their bucket trucks Tuesday on the riverfront near the city’s downtown, a visible sign of the prep work going on at utility maintenance yards across the region as Tropical Storm Isaias approaches.

The storm was moving north up the Atlantic Seaboard after making landfall as a hurricane Monday, the first big tropical storm of 2020 to hit New England.

“Trees for us are the biggest concern,” said James Lisowski, assistant general manager of Chicopee Electric light. “The lines, the poles themselves are fully capable of handling 40- to 50-mile-an-hour guests.”

Chicopee and other municipal power utilities joined their regional utility counterparts in preparing Monday.

For Chicopee, that means checking trucks and other equipment and preparing to hold employees -- line workers, engineers, substation maintenance and repair people -- into the evening in case they are needed.

Lisa Stowe, spokeswoman for Westfield Gas & Electric, said the utility also brings in contractor tree crews, an extra dispatcher and sandwiches.

“We have to keep these guys fed,” she said.

Like the investor-owned utilities, the municipal utilities sometimes rely on crews from outside the area. Lisowski said there are more than 50 utilities in New England and New York in a mutual aid association.

Mutual aid for Central and Western Massachusetts is coordinated through Chicopee.

In a statement, Eversource described the difficulty of doing a storm response under restrictions meant to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“With many customers still working remotely during this challenging time, we recognize how important it is to have reliable power,” said Eversource Vice President of Electric Operations Doug Foley. “Working under the challenging conditions related to the pandemic, our crews are positioned around the state and ready to respond to any damage or outages caused by Tropical Storm Isaias. Our team will work around-the-clock to restore power as quickly and safely as possible -- yet some restorations may take longer as we work to ensure the safety of our employees and customers.”

Eversource reminds customers to always stay clear of downed wires and to report them immediately to 9-1-1. Be sure to report any outage online at eversource.com, or by calling 877-659-6326.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for the region, and the storm is expected to hit New England Tuesday afternoon or evening.

Related Content:

Tropical Storm Isaias may bring more tornados, flash flooding to Massachusetts, forecasters warn

Tropical storm Isaias to hit Massachusetts Tuesday, bringing drenching rains, high winds to 4 western counties

More weather updates from MassLive >>

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(c)2020 MassLive.com, Springfield, Mass.

Visit MassLive.com, Springfield, Mass. at www.masslive.com

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