, Derry, New Hampshire

June 27, 2013

Londonderry, PSNH hash out communications

By Julie Huss

---- — LONDONDERRY — When there is a storm or power outage, the most important thing is to get the word out to the community.

That’s what town officials said was key when dealing with outages and making sure residents know what’s going on and when their lights might come back on.

Public Service of New Hampshire representatives came before the Town Council June 17 to state their case about what PSNH is doing to better its communication with towns during storms and outages.

Elizabeth LaRocca, community relations representative and PSNH local field supervisor Paul Casper came before councilors to talk the company’s latest projects, including major underground utility work.

The visit was prompted by Councilor Tom Dolan’s request earlier this month to find out why the town was suffering so many outages, even without a storm in sight.

“I continue to be disappointed in the performance of PSNH and the fact that even without the benefit of any ice storms, we continue to have power outages in town,” Dolan said at a council meeting June 3. “I think the unreliable performance and service is becoming remarkable.”

At last week’s meeting, Dolan wanted answers.

“It’s grating on some of the residents to have to deal with these frequent outages,” he said. “What I would like to hear is why do we continue to have these reliability problems with our electricity? Power outages certainly can’t be attributed to winter weather.”

Dolan said he was worried about the town’s changing demographic when it came to the number of older citizens making up the landscape. These are the people affected most when it comes to the power being off, he said.

“Being very hot, or being very cold, that can be dangerous,” he told the PSNH contingent. “What are you doing and what are your plans?”

Right now, Londonderry has 17 projects on the table to be completed, LaRocca said, part of PSNH’s upcoming plans.

She said the company spent $4.3 million on its southern region, with about $1.6 million of that, or 37 percent, spent on Londonderry.

A large portion of PSNH’s underground sections of cable are in Londonderry, too, one of the first communities to require new developers to place their utilities underground.

Casper said he would gladly come in to give a “show and tell” presentation to residents, showing them where they live, what their systems do and more to relieve some of the anxiety they may have.

He said upgrades in the company’s technology are helping identify problem areas and improve customer service.

LaRocca said it’s part of PSNH’s mission to relate important information prior to system overhauls and other work being done.

“It’s important for us to communicate to people and be proactive,” she said.

Dolan reiterated his feelings that communication is key.

He suggested PSNH make sure people in a certain area be notified when work is being done.

“I think that would help them understand more when the power goes out,” he said.

LaRocca said the utility would work hard to make sure communication remained key with customers. That also includes better communication between PSNH and the town’s fire and police departments.

“With every storm, we learn and get better,” she said.