Utility Insert Compares Hurricane Sandy Devastation To Other Storms

O&R included explanation of restoration process in most recent customer bill


Orange & Rockland customers probably noticed the insert in their most recent bill.  It is part of the utility’s outreach to explain to customers what was involved in restoring power after Hurricane Sandy and how that effort compared to the damage to its system from 2011’s Hurricane Irene and late October Snowstorm.

“There was so much information about discussion about the storms,” said O&R spokesperson Maria Pollard. “We wanted to give people a perspective of how big this (storm) was.”

Pollard said the utility wanted to show the numbers and how long it takes to rebuild and repair from intense storms.  She said first there was 2011’s Hurricane Irene with “unprecedented damage” followed the October Snowstorm, which caused a “historical amount” of damage and then Hurricane Sandy which eclipsed both of them. 

The insert lists the number of outages from each storm and days to restore service. Hurricane Sandy caused 250,000 outages, which just about equaled the cumulative outages of Hurricane Irene and the October Snowstorm, which were 120,000 and 135,000. It took 11 days to fully restore power after Hurricane Sandy and seven and eight days respectively from Hurricane Irene and the October Snowstorm.

Pollard said the company hoped to give customers an idea of what goes on behind the scenes to restore power by providing a detailed explanation of the process that begins with transmission lines and substations before reaching local neighborhoods and replacing poles and wires. Many people expressed frustration when after seeing utility trucks in their neighborhood, their power did not return.

“You’ve got to restore the main lines and get the most people on and then you get to the smaller areas,” she explained.

Here is a portion of the insert which includes a message from O&R President & CEO William Longhi: 

“We’ve described Hurricane Sandy as destructive. Quite frankly that’s an understatement. We repaired 27 transmission lines, 17 substations, and almost all of our 280 distribution circuits and miles upon miles of secondary lines.”

It also states that O&R believes it improved its efforts since 2011 in areas such as handling customers’ calls but realizes that it needs to get better at estimating local restoration times. Last month, two Rockland County legislators announced they would hold a January 2013 hearing on the response to Hurricane Sandy’s devastation. http://patch.com/A-zxHm

The Merm December 29, 2012 at 04:08 PM
The overhead power lines are 19th Century technology. The lines and transformers need to be put underground as they are in every major city. Orange and Rockland says that will be too expensive. Well too darned bad. Let them take a loss for a few years. But no, all they want is profit, profit, profit, and the customers suffer the consequences each time there is a storm. The customer has no alternative here since O&R is the only game in town. It's time for our politicians to force their hand since the consumer is powerless to do so.
Laurence Voss December 29, 2012 at 04:53 PM
How come O&R does not have an insert explaining their delivery charges ? Take a good look at your bill. You will see that the delivery charges for both electricity and natural gas far exceed the cost of the electricity and natural gas supply. Imagine paying $3.50 a gallon for gas at your local service station and $35 for the use of the gasoline pump and you will get the picture as to what we are paying to rent gas pipes and wires from O&R. It is an abomination.
stephany December 29, 2012 at 05:21 PM
the cost to fix vs the cost to bury is like 10-20 times more to bury. I forget but it is huge..as expensive as it is to fix things it is nothing compared to burying the cables which doesn't really help with flooding anyway. yours and my inconvenience is really none of their concern. If it was public sector it might be different but O&R has to make decisions based on bottom line for investors vs votes for incumbents.
Andromachos December 30, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Stephany - That is the problem with having utilities, particularly monopolistic utilities like water and power transmission, being private enterprises. At best they should be not for profit. They are highly regulated but it still seems that the profit motive, with no competition, skews the prices paid.
Andromachos December 31, 2012 at 02:05 AM
Unless there can be competition in energy transmission it should not be a private enterprise.


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