Be ‘Storm Smart’
The offical start of summer started in June but United Illuminating is still advising customers to be ready for the threat of seasonal storms.
United Illuminating recommends that customers stock supplies, develop emergency plans, assemble storm kits and review safety guidelines as the season gets underway. The company continues to build upon its own arsenal of storm fighting activities and investments to harden the power grid to better withstand storms.
Severe weather is a threat year-round, but damaging storms are common in the summertime. Summer is also the beginning of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, which runs June 1 through Nov. 30. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center has forecast a near- or above-normal season, with a likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms, of which five to nine could become hurricanes with winds of 74 mph or higher — including one to four major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or higher.
UI has invested in a modern, resilient power delivery system for customers, including ongoing maintenance to reduce outages caused by equipment failure and contact with trees and vegetation. Over 92% of UI’s overhead distribution lines are insulated to protect against brushes with trees, branches and other hazards.
“Planning for storms and other emergencies is something we do year-round in order to be prepared to restore power to customers as quickly as possible in the event of an outage,” said Joseph D. Thomas, vice president of electrical system operations at UI. “At the same time, we are doubling our efforts to provide seamless service to our customers, even during the harshest weather conditions, by investing in equipment and infrastructure that will improve the reliability of our system going forward.”
UI has been working diligently to improve its storm-response capabilities and harden its system against the kind of damage sustained during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 and Super Storm Sandy in 2012, during which UI restored a combined 438,000 customer outages. The company has rolled out 1,200 automated vehicle location (AVL) systems that provide real-time information about each UI and contractor vehicle out in the field. This allows the company to dispatch the closest crews to specific outages. In addition, field crews are now deployed with mobile data terminals that allow them to instantly update the job status and get their next assignments.
“AVANGRID places great value in protecting the grid that powers the homes and businesses of our customers,” said Bob Kump, president and CEO of Avangrid Networks. “As we see the frequency of powerful storms increase in regularity, we must build a cleaner, smarter and more resilient grid.”
Visit My Account at uinet.com to set up email and phone alerts.
Customers should have flashlights, a first-aid kit, a battery-operated radio or TV, a manual can-opener, a battery-operated clock and spare batteries on hand.
Keep supplies of drinking water and non-perishable food available.
Charge mobile phones, tablets, and other devices. Store key contact information in your device and keep a paper copy for back-up.
Customers who rely on electronic life-support or medical-monitoring equipment should develop a backup plan in case an extended power outage occurs. UI has a program to register “life support” customers. Call 800.722.5584 to find out more.
Report Problems and Get Information:
Visit the Outage Central at uinet.com for an up-to-date Town Outage List, storm preparation tips, safety information and more.
UI offers mobile outage reporting. Text “OUT” to 839.884 (TEXT-UI) to report an outage (registration required). You can also report an outage at Outage Central at uinet.com, or by calling UI at 800.722.5584.
Always assume downed lines are live and dangerous. If you see a downed power line or trees touching power lines, stay away and call UI immediately.
Have a certified electrician install any generator that plugs into a home’s electrical system. It must be connected via a transfer switch, which isolates the house from the electric grid while the generator is running. This stops electricity from back-feeding into the grid, causing a hazard. Improper installation can damage the generator, or endanger utility employees or the public.
UI leases and installs an automatic transfer switch that safely connects your portable generator to your electric meter to allow you to run your home’s equipment directly from your circuit breaker panel. Call 877.447.8743 or visit www.uinet.com/shieldandconnect for information.
If adding a natural gas-fired generator, consult your gas utility to ensure there is adequate pressure.
Carefully read and observe all instructions in your generator’s operating manual.
Never run a generator indoors, or even in an open garage.
Visit UI’s website, www.uinet.com, for additional tips on storm preparation and safety. Follow @UnitedIllum on Twitter for information and updates.