Folks really need to calm down about the local power company’s response to the October surprise.
Meterorologists have characterized the storm as the “worst October snowstorm in history” with “all-time record snowfall.” Due to the 12 to 26 inches of wet snowfall on trees that still had leaves, the number of downed branches and trees were similar to a tornado, but one that was 250 miles long and 75 miles wide.
The storm extended from central Pennsylvania through Massachusetts and Connecticut and into New Hampshire. Nearly 750,000 households lost power. That meant that the normal “mutual aid” pacts could not be invoked because every power company had its own widespread damages to deal with.
While it might seem that Springfield and environs were ignored by the power companies, nearby Somers, Enfield and Suffield power outages were nearly twice what Springfield and suburbs suffered another indication of the massive size of the storm.
It’s nonsense to pretend that a power company can staff up to be “fully prepared” to deal with such a storm. It would mean scores of expensive trucks and trained crews sitting idle for months and years on end for the once-in-a-lifetime event. As a highly-regulated industry, power companies do not set their own rates. For example, our local newspaper reported last week that WMECo recently requested permission to add one additional truck and crew and the Public Utilities Commission denied that request. Frequently, utilities ask for a nickle increase in rates and the Commission approves a penny. No wonder the infrastructure continues to deteriorate.
The current rush to hold hearings is just a feel-good fraud on the part of our politicians, who are largely responsible for the precarious financial condition of local power companies.
Area residents should be focusing more on their good fortune that the storm did not happen in mid-winter, when freezing pipes would have rendered most homes totally uninhabitable for weeks, rather than just cold and uncomfortable for single week. They should remember that in New England, storms happen, and you just deal with it like your parents and grandparents did with gratitude to the first-line responders, and without whining.
R. Patrick Henry, Jr.