Green Mountain Power (GMP) restored power to more than 115,000 customers after a damaging storm slammed the northeast on Halloween. A field force of 550 GMP line workers, out of state line workers, tree crews and assessors worked around the clock since Thursday night repairing severe line and pole damage and got the last customers back on Monday.
"Crews confronted dangerous weather and time-consuming repairs from the widespread wind and rain damage - large trees failing and falling from outside of our rights of way took lines down and broke poles all over our service area," said Mike Burke, Chief Field Operations Executive at GMP. "This storm is among the top five GMP has seen for total customer outages, and it is concerning that the top five have happened in just the last eight years. Storms are increasing in frequency and severity, as the weather impacts of climate change hit Vermont."
GMP also is increasing its outreach to its most affected communities leading up to filing a climate resiliency plan in January. Last year GMP proactively requested and received approval to file this plan. It will provide a comprehensive roadmap to serve customers now and into the future to make the grid both stronger and more flexible, in the face of these increasing storms. The plan includes accelerating the pace of transmission and distribution hardening projects and targeted undergrounding, moving infrastructure out of flood plains, plus working with communities on microgrid and storage projects, and boosting storage opportunities for customers. GMP's residential storage programs have already proven successful at helping customers ride through extended outages safely and comfortably, including during this storm, while also helping cut costs for all customers outside of storms by driving down demand on the grid during peak times.
More than 1,100 customers got backup power during this storm from their Powerwalls through GMP's pilot programs including Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). The home batteries provided more than 10,500 hours of backup, enough to power a single home for more than a year. The average backup was nine hours, while the longest was 82 hours.
GMP customer Jennifer Hannux tweeted, "Hats off to Green Mountain Power and their entire crew working hard to restore power to #Vermont! We are still without power, but our Tesla battery is going and we are comfortable." The Hartland family got a Powerwall through GMP last December, but says this was their first extended outage. They intentionally reduced their electricity use to conserve battery power, knowing the restoration effort would be days, and the Powerwall kept their lights on until crews restored power to their home Sunday afternoon, two and a half days after they lost it. "It worked great," Hannux said.
GMP is now alerting customers about a heavy wet snow event with the potential for outages in the forecast for Thursday afternoon into Friday. GMP always tracks multiple forecasts to be prepared to respond for customers, and will provide updates as the forecast models gain specificity about the potential for outages.
For GMP storm safety tips, and to sign up for text alerts go here: https://greenmountainpower.com/help/outages/staying-safe-in-a-storm/
Report outages and track restoration times in GMP's online Outage Center: https://outages.greenmountainpower.com
Green Mountain Power (GMP) serves approximately 265,000 residential and business customers in Vermont and is partnering with them to improve lives and transform communities. GMP is focused on a new way of doing business to meet the needs of customers with integrated energy services that help people use less energy and save money, while continuing to generate clean, cost-effective and reliable power in Vermont. GMP earned a spot on Fast Company's Most Innovative Companies in the World list three years in a row (2017, 2018, 2019). GMP is the first utility in the world to get a B Corp certification, meeting rigorous social, environmental, accountability and transparency standards and committing to use business as a force for good. J.D. Power's 2018 and 2019 rankings put GMP among top utilities for customer satisfaction. In 2019, GMP was named "One of the Best Places To Work in Vermont" by Vermont Business Magazine and the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, and was the winner of the Deane C. Davis Outstanding Vermont Business of the Year Award.