Orange & Rockland Completes its Hurricane Restoration EffortNov 19th, 2012 | By HV Insider | Category: Lead Article
By Friday night, power was restored to almost all of the 250,000 O&R electric customers whose power was knocked out by Hurricane Sandy, the worst natural disaster ever to strike the region.
Extensive repairs will continue to restore electricity to the fewer than 50 remaining customers whose power was knocked out by the hurricane as well as those whose power was interrupted for various reasons since the nor’easter struck the area Wednesday.
O&R’s large contingent of contractor and mutual aid workers from across the nation and Canada has, and will continue to be, released to help neighboring utilities that are still restoring customer outages.
Hurricane Sandy roared ashore and lashed O&R and its customers with high winds and heavy rains on Monday October 29. The hurricane caused the largest number of electric outages by a natural disaster to strike O&R in the company’s more than 100-year history (see table below). It cut power to approximately 250,000 of O&R’s 300,000 electric customers or over 80 percent of the utility company’s electric customer base.
Hurricane Sandy also created the most damage of any storm ever to the O&R electric system. It ripped down 27 electric transmission lines, disabled 17 substations and badly damaged almost all of the Company’s 280 distribution circuits. The O&R distribution system sustained damage at over 10,000 separate locations.
As a result of damage from Hurricane Sandy, O&R has replaced over 500 poles, 400 transformers and 140,000 feet of wire — another all-time record.
As a comparison, during Hurricane Irene, O&R replaced 150 poles, 330 transformers and 50,000 feet of wire in order to restore 120,000 customers. In the October 2011Snowstorm, O&R replaced 140 poles, 150 transformers and 74,000 feet of wire to restore 134,000 customers.
Hurricane Sandy also generated a record number of calls to O&R’s Customer Service Department.
On average, O&R receives about 800,000 customer calls per year. But from 6 p.m. Sunday, October 28 through 5 a.m. Wednesday, November 7, O&R received about 295,000 calls. About 77 percent of the calls were handled through O&R’s new high call volume automated outage processing system, and the remaining 23 percent were transferred to live representatives both at O&R and at outside contractor locations who answered those calls on average within 10 seconds. Overall, 99.3 percent of the calls were answered, a dramatic improvement from both 2011 storms.
To rebuild the badly damaged electric system, O&R mobilized its workforce of more than 1,000 employees and hired over 2,500 utility contractors to field the largest emergency response workforce O&R has ever assembled.
The contractors streamed into O&R from 35 states and Canada, including a U.S. military airlift of 75 trucks and 200 workers from the Los Angeles area. About 80 New York State National Guard troops from Troy also joined the recovery effort.
Orange and Rockland Utilities, Inc. (O&R), a wholly owned subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, Inc., one of the nation’s largest investor-owned energy companies, is a regulated utility. It provides electric service to approximately 300,000 customers in southeastern New York State (where its franchise name is Orange & Rockland), northern New Jersey (where it’s Rockland Electric Company) and northeastern Pennsylvania (where it’s Pike County Light & Power Company) and natural gas service to approximately 130,000 customers in New York and Pennsylvania.
Here are the O&R service and outage figures by county:
New York Customers served Customers affected
Rockland 114,707 99,719
Orange 82,358 70,549
Sullivan 25,993 11,571
New Jersey Customers served Customers affected
Bergen 58,354 52,742
Passaic 13,350 10,961
Sussex 276 113
Pennsylvania Customers served Customers affected
Pike 4,558 4,470