Power outages reported across the region
Editor's Note: The most recent story about power outages has been posted here: http://www.theday.com/article/20110829/NWS01/110829596
Power outages across Connecticut total more than 750,000, and the state is urging residents to avoid downed power lines and standing water.
Even though the winds seem to have died down, the danger is not over, officials said. Trees continue to come down on wires, houses and roadways.
Spokesman Scott DeVico of the state Department Emergency Services and Public Protection, said this afternoon that the outages cover Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating company customers. They do not include the municipal utility users, he said.
"We are recommending that people use common sense and do not go near downed power lines or any standing water," DeVico said. "There are still search and rescue efforts going on in the rest of the state and there are numerous trees and power lines down throughout the state."
It's tough to judge the depth of standing water whether walking or driving, he said.
Tonight could be dangerous also, he said.
"We still anticipate seeing some very windy conditions going into tonight even though the storm is ending," he said. "What our weather people are telling us is, there are pressure gradients that will cause some very substantial wind gusts tonight."
As power outages climb for CL&P customers, the company website is becoming overwhelmed with people check their power status online. The company is having trouble updating the outage page because of the overload, Poirot said.
"It's OK to take a look at the page but don't leave it on while you're going for a cup of coffee because other people want to see it," said Frank Poirot, a spokesman for Northeast Utilities, CL&P's parent company. "Visit the page, check it out, but don't leave it running."
The website, http://www.cl-p.com/Home, has a link to "my outage status" and other information.
Just before 2 p.m., Poirot said 593,000 of its 1.2 million customers statewide were without power.
"And that number continues to climb," Poirot said. "The vast majority of our outages are in the Eastern part of the state, from the Connecticut River east and from Woodstock on the Massachusetts line down to New London east to the Rhode Island border."
Right now, outage estimates are "purely forecasts," Poirot said, because the company has not been able to get out and assess the damage done to the distribution system. Some outage customers are being given estimates of a week before electricity is restored.
"We start with making lines safe, lines on the ground, work with police and fire to ensure they're de-energized and then we begin the process of assessing the damage to our system," he said. "Then we'll be working with towns, DPW (the state Department of Public Works) to open the main arteries in town that are impassable right now because of trees and limbs and our own lines."
At this point, the company is just doing repairs on life-threatening situations like live wires on the ground in a main thoroughfare, Poirot said. Repairs cannot begin in earnest until the winds subside. And even though the storm is due to end late afternoon, the company has heard damaging wind gusts could occur later tonight.
"We've heard they'll be damaging gusts later on tonight," he said. "That will certainly hamper any work up in a bucket. Winds like that also likely will cause more damage, more outages."
At Millstone Power Station, which is owned by Dominion, two nuclear reactors are producing electricity at half power. That energy is delivered to the entire New England electric grid, not directly to Connecticut.
Being at 50 percent power ensures grid stability and prevents disruptions, said Dominion spokesman Ken Holt.
"If we were to come off line at reduced power it doesn't have as much impact on the grid as if we were operating at full power," he said.
Norwich Public Utilities is reporting a spike in power outages throughout the city early this afternoon.
About 11,600 customers are without power, which is about half of NPU's customers, spokesman Mike Hughes said.
He said there is significant damage to the utility infrastructure and that customers should be patient as there may be an extended outage period.
"We need to do this in a safe manner, if we start energizing things with the structural system not ready, we could start causing fires," Hughes said.
He said that people using medical systems whose power is draining down should call 911 for medical assistance.
Connecticut Light & Power is reporting widespread outages:
East Lyme: 5786
New London: 4471
North Stonington: 2528
Old Lyme: 5448
Old Saybrook: 3644
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