Sandy – An unprecedented challenge for local government

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Freeport Electric in the path of Sandy was presented with challenges well beyond those encountered in more typical coastal storms. Strong and unrelenting winds caused tree failures of the kind and scope rarely seen; floods isolated the entire south end of our community from access, making many homes unsafe to accept electric power; and a severe winter storm arrived just afterward to further delay restoration efforts.

We know what a devastating time this has been for the people of Freeport. Superstorm Sandy left more than 11,000 Freeport Electric customers without power. Over the two week period, including the Nor’easter, we restored power to more customers than in any other storm in our history. We brought in out-of-state line workers and tree trimmers in preparation for the storm.

Strengthening infrastructure for the new normal

To deal with the flooding from heavy rains and storm surge that we saw in last year’s storms, we identified 2 substations that needed to be removed or protected. The best way to protect the system is to build in redundancy in our distribution system. For example, we have eliminated those substations from the flood zones and updated all the transformers and circuits from 4kv to 13.8kv. We have backed up these circuits with other circuits. So, we will continue to build more redundancy into our system.

We will evaluate our tree trimming programs and be more aggressive with trees near power lines.

We will continue to build up our infrastructure around the village to increase reliability. For example, we have installed 4 disconnect switches on the 4 main circuits in the flood areas.

We will analyze the effectiveness, costs and pursue mitigation grants to bury some overhead lines to increase reliability.

We will be raising a vital piece of equipment at Power Plant 2 which provides communication and computer service to the entire village. This project is well underway and is totally funded through a mitigation grant from FEMA.

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