State's Largest Power Company Prepares For Outages

10/29/12 6:34AM By Nina Keck
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AP/Green Mountain Power
Canadian utility trucks wait at the U.S. border on Monday in Highgate. Green Mountain Power secured more than 250 outside line workers and tree trimmers to assist in restoring power to customers.

Green Mountain Power has been gearing up for Hurricane Sandy for a week assessing what parts of the state may be hardest hit, where to move resources and how to best utilize outside crews coming to help.   Part of that planning has included twice daily statewide conference calls

Ken Couture is Emergency Response Director for Green Mountain Power in Colchester. It's 7: 30 on a Sunday Night and for the last half hour, he's run a conference call with about 70 department heads and utility employees all over Vermont.

"Hi. It's Sherry Burgess, I am on the line. I just want to caution the OS group to keep an eye on your pole piles. I'm sure we're going to be competing for poles with Manhattan and Long island"

The 40 minute call covered everything from power poles and logistics, to when to start serving lunch to the 250 or so out of state tree crews and line workers.   Dorothy Schnure, part of Green Mountain Power's Communications' department, reminded staff about the growing role of social media.

"We'll be doing Facebook posts and tweets letting people know about updates in the storm trying to keep people up to date," Schnure said. 

Another voice on the line chimed in quickly.

"One point actually. I'm on the Facebook page of Green Mountain Power and just today there have been 40 people who have liked us which to me shows increasingly how this is going to be an important tool for our customers to know what's going on."

Scott Massie, Emergency Response Director in Rutland says the twice daily calls are critical to ensure no details are forgotten, especially since this is the first big storm the company has handled since its merger.

"It's very helpful in that in brings everybody that's actually involved with the storm and it puts them on the same page so we all know what's happening in the functional areas throughout the storm - to makes sure everyone is aligned with all the operational areas," Massie said. 

Green Mountain Power spokesperson Jeremy Baker says at this point, they're planning for a wind event, not a rain event, with Rutland expected to take the biggest hit.

"Our meteorologists is calling Rutland ground zero and that will be downsloping winds off the green mountains on the western slopes, gusts of up to 65 to 70 miles per hour, and even in the valleys you could see 45 to 60 miles and hour."

Kind of like the ‘Norricane that hit the city in 2007, says Baker, but on a much broader scale. 

 

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