NSTAR’s response to Irene

When I was called about the double pole issue,I took the opportunity to get information about the NSTAR response to tropical storm Irene. The representative told me that it was the worst storm he has seen in his career, and he is at retirement age.  He said they had 193,000 calls that Sunday, and that they just could not keep up with them all. He did say that they wanted residents to call 800-592-2000, instead of calling the police and fire, and asking the public safety people to relay the message. He also said that NSTAR does give special dedicated telephone numbers to the police and fire departments, that they do not give out to the public at large.  He said that they will work off of a priority list provided by the town, but said it does not help them if the priority list is too long, such as 60 items. There is also a critical medical care list, which is generated by doctors providing information to them. Finally, he said that they did have crews coming in from Kentucky, Canada, Minnesota and municipal companies, and that those crews got there in the middle of the storm on Sunday.

Medfield will be meeting with NSTAR in the near future to make sure that the communication problems we had during Irene do not happen in the next storm.

2 responses to “NSTAR’s response to Irene

  1. The primary concern over NSTAR’s response to the storm was the lack of communication and coordination with local public safety and public works officials. While police and fire dispatchers do report incidents using a different number than customers use, NSTAR’s call takers could not provide any information to Medfield’s police or fire departments such as estimated response times, the locations of outages, where crews were working in town, etc. In past years Edison / NSTAR stationed a representative at the fire station to help coordinate and prioritize requests. With tropical storm Irene, a storm for which there was more than adequate warning, police and fire dispatchers were reporting issues to NSTAR call takers, but NSTAR provided no information to Medfield officials. NSTAR was seemingly just creating “work orders” as they would in a normal day and didn’t seem to have any means of prioritizing some calls, such as live wires on the ground on fire, vs. tree limbs hanging on wires that could be a potential problem, but no immediate safety threat. Public Works and Fire Department personnel were able to clear most roads of trees and branches during and after the storm, but only NSTAR’s crews can handle trees or branches where electrical wires are involved. Medfield’s Police, Fire, and Public Works personnel should be commended for their efficiency during and after the storm – hopefully NSTAR will review their procedures and develop a better coordinated approach in future events.


  2. We lost power on that Sunday at 1pm due to a tree which fell on top of the lines 100 yards down the road. Only three homes were affected in the entire neighborhood of @60 homes. The tree was removed on Tuesday morning at 5am but in the process, knocked out the power to an adjacent street and 10 homes up the street from us. Wednesday morning, NSTAR was in the neighborhood at 630am. They restored power (fairly fast) to the people who lost their power due to the tree removal. We original three homes were still without power! After several exhaustive days trying to get any helpful information out of NSTAR, a truck showed up in our neighborhood mid-day Friday. The guy literally raised his bucket up to the top of the pole next to our house and lowered it in a total of 30 seconds. A circuit breaker had been tripped and he reset it!! Power on! I had been telling NSTAR for the previous two days about a red light emanating from the canister at the top of the same pole where this circuit breaker was.

    We know compared to others in our town and other parts of New England we were very fortunate. Our main complaint is the lack of assessment of the root cause of an outage in a neighborhood, especially when a truck came through on Wednesday morning and they didn’t take a few minutes to investigate what could be wrong. We and our two neighbors lost hundreds of dollars of food and one of them lost costly medicines. What is our recourse? The Medfield Police were the only ones that week who were empathetic to our situation and provided to us any information they had, which wasn’t much because NSTAR was telling them anything!