• NSTAR, National Grid prepare for possible blizzard


    BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com/AP) - The major utilities in Massachusetts, which have come under intense criticism for their poor responses to severe storms in recent years, say they are fully prepared for this weekend's anticipated blizzard.

    Michael Hayhurst, Vice President of Electric System Operations at NSTAR Electric, spoke at a news conference on Thursday and said NSTAR, which also has about one million customers in the state, has declared the anticipated blizzard a Level 5 emergency.

    Hayhurst said NSTAR rarely declares Level 5 emergencies; however, the company expects a large portion of their customers will be affected by the storm. All 3,000 of NSTAR's employees will be engaged in some type of restoration activity.

    The last time NSTAR declared a Level 5 emergency was in 2011 when Irene slammed into Massachusetts. The October snow storm that occurred in 2011 was escalated to a Level 5.

    Hayhurst said NSTAR, which merged with Northeast Utilities in April 2012, learned from those storms and plans to better communicate with its customers regarding outages, open roadways, and other community issues as a result.

    The number one issue NSTAR deals with during storms is downed trees. With blizzard conditions, winds and heavy snow, it is likely.

    Utilities are pre-positioning workers, contacting contractors and planning to bring in additional crews from outside the region.

    NSTAR has secured additional resources and several hundred crews from other areas, including Wisconsin and Florida. The crews are arriving on Thursday and will be rested and ready to go for Friday's storm.

    National Grid, with more than one million customers in Massachusetts, said Thursday it is developing crew assignments and readying equipment in anticipation of harsh weather that could dump two feet of snow and bring high winds with the potential to take down power lines.

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