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Electrical Safety and Reliability

In 2002, the Commission transferred the responsibility for electric safety to the Safety Division. Whenever there is electrical contact in which a person has received a shock, flash injury or other injury that resulted from contact with the utility’s facilities, an investigation and report is completed.  The most recent investigation was for a contact made in 2014.  Since 2002, electrical safety responsibilities have expanded beyond electrical incident investigations to include:                      

  • Random field inspection of electrical distribution infrastructure
  • Assisting in resolving consumer electrical complaints requiring field investigations
  • Assisting Electric Division with technical issues as needed
  • Reviewing Public Water and Land Crossings for potential safety issues
  • Participating in dockets that involve significant capital expenditures of the electrical system
  • Reviewing Emergency Response Plans of Electric Service Providers
  • Analyzing Effectiveness of Utilities Responses to Wide Scale Storms
  • Reviewing Periodic Utility Reports including:
    • Customer filed complaints that involve field investigation
    • Voltage Complaints
    • Electric Meter Testing Reports
    • Equipment Theft, Sabotage and Breeches of Security
    • Customer service interruptions greater than 5 minutes
    • Reliability Indices
    • Customer Outages greater than 2000 customers
    • Crew Reports during Wide Scale Emergencies

The Safety Division is also the lead in coordinating service restoration efforts with the electric utilities during major power outages.  

Wide Scale Storm Response

The Safety Division is instrumental in monitoring around-the-clock emergency response efforts coordinated by the State of New Hampshire for local municipalities.  The Safety Division is also the lead in coordinating service restoration efforts with the electric utilities during major power outages. Since 2008, New Hampshire has experienced a series of major storms resulting in widespread power outages.  The six worst historical storms having widespread electrical outages are: 

Name

Dates

Customers Affected State Wide

% of Customer Base

Duration

2008 Ice Storm

Dec 11-24, 2008

434,828

63%

312 Hours

February 2010 Windstorm

Feb 25- Mar 4, 2010

383,649

57%

144 Hours

Oct Nor’easter Snow Storm

Oct 29-Nov 4, 2011

323,949

47%

159 Hours

Thanksgiving Snowstorm

Nov 26-Dec 1, 2014

274,142

39%

114 Hours

Hurricane Sandy

Oct 26-31, 2012

200,707

29%

108 Hours

Tropical Storm Irene

Aug 28- Sept 1, 2011

187,905

27%

79 Hours

See summary Chart of Historical Storms as well as breakdown by Utility and examine the expenditures for restoration.

The Commission and Safety Division conducted extensive after-action reviews following three of the largest recent storms: the December 2008 Ice Storm, the October 2011 Snowstorm, and the Nov 2014 Thanksgiving Storm to assess utility preparedness and emergency response capabilities in New Hampshire.  The reports are shown below:

A number of directives were given to utilities to implement improvements in their emergency planning and response procedures.  The Safety Division identified areas of improved and poor performance as compared to the prior significant storm events that had required corrective actions.  Reports typically recount and evaluate pre-storm planning and preparedness as well as the power restoration response taken by the State’s four electric distribution utilities. 

In addition, the Safety Division reviews each utility’s after action self-assessment report that is submitted after each wide scale storm.