Infrastructure Improvements Help Reduce Number of Outages
PSEG Long Island marks Sandy anniversary with significant enhancements across the company
(Uniondale, NY – Oct. 29, 2019) — On the seventh anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, PSEG Long Island highlights the significant infrastructure and communications improvements it has made to contend with the extreme weather events that continue to affect the area. An extreme weather event can range from torrential downpours to extended hot, dry weather, to super powerful hurricanes and more.
“Our employees have been hard at work for almost six years working to provide our customers with the most reliable service possible,” said John O’ Connell, vice president Transmission & Distribution, PSEG Long Island. “Each week, approximately 4 miles of the electric system is hardened against storms, 44 miles of trees are trimmed and 120 old poles are replaced.”
PSEG Long Island took over the electric grid in 2014. It evaluated the system and the damage that occurred during Sandy to find ways to improve infrastructure design, integrate new construction standards, enhance the pole inspection program, help mitigate storm damage, and improve storm processes, technology and customer communications.
Since then, the company has launched several programs to strengthen the grid and improve system reliability. The largest of these has been a storm-hardening project funded through $729 million in funding from FEMA. All together, more than 320 distribution circuits are being upgraded or completed and more than 938 circuit miles have been storm hardened. Crews improving these circuits have:
- Replaced 24,815 poles with new poles capable of withstanding winds up to 135 mph—which is in the lower range of a category 4 hurricane.
- Used shorter cross arms on poles to help deflect falling limbs, instead of cradling them.
- Restrung 2,382 miles of thicker insulated wires to lessen the likelihood a branch will cause an electric problem if it touches the electric wires.
- Installed 887 automatic switching units to minimize the number of customers that are affected when equipment fails. The units reroute power around the failed equipment, isolating the immediate area where the damage occurred, bringing the lights back on for the surrounding customers.
During storms in 2019, these circuits experienced 42% fewer outages than unimproved circuits thanks to PSEG Long Island’s storm-hardening efforts.
Upgrading equipment is just one way PSEG Long Island has improved the electric system. To further protect against storm damage, arborists from PSEG Long Island’s Tree Trimming program now trim the entire system on a four-year cycle, instead of the previous five-year cycle. They work throughout the year to identify and trim tree limbs in rights of way and along easements that could potentially cause outages during or after a storm.
The company has already completed one full trim of the electric system and is about halfway through its second trim. In 2018 alone, PSEG Long Island trimmed hazardous tree limbs along 3,000 miles of overhead lines, reducing vegetation-related outages on those circuits by 45%. Tree crews removed more than 11,000 hazardous trees and/or large limbs along the distribution and transmission system in accordance with the industry best practice clearance standard. This preserves the health of the tree and directs future growth away from power lines. In addition, a new vine mitigation program identified, cut and treated more than 3,000 vine locations across Long Island and the Rockaways. PSEG Long Island continues improving customer service through technology advancements.
Superstorm Sandy also revealed the crucial importance of communicating with customers. PSEG Long Island has significantly enhanced communications with stakeholders at every level, as part of the emergency response plan for Long Island and the Rockaways. Communications include:
- A more responsive social media presence that allows customers to report outages
- Direct communication with customers via email, automated phone calls and texts
Scheduled media updates
- Coordination calls and dedicated liaisons for the many municipalities within the service area.
In 2018, PSEG Long Island also launched a new website with a modern, completely mobile design that’s more useful and easier to navigate, providing a better user experience. The PSEG Long Island outage map was updated to include additional information, such as crew location, cause and restoration of outages. A new, interactive reliability layer was added to the map. This new layer details the reliability, FEMA, and circuit improvement projects in progress throughout the service territory. In addition, customers can now manage accounts, pay bills and report an outage via the Amazon Alexa skill.
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PSEG Long Island
PSEG Long Island operates the Long Island Power Authority’s transmission and distribution system under a long-term contract. PSEG Long Island is a subsidiary of Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. (PSEG) (NYSE:PEG), a publicly traded diversified energy company.