In National Gird’s first public remarks since taking over communication and storm restoration duties from LIPA, one of the utility’s top officials said most outages from Friday’s Nor’easter should be restored within 24 hours.
John Bruckner, president of Long Island Transmission and Distribution for National Grid, said he estimates more than 100,000 Long Island Power Authority customers to lose power during the winter storm, which is expected to create Blizzard-like conditions that will pound the Island with more than one foot of snow.
National Grid has secured more than 100 tree trimmers, 700 high-voltage lineman and 250 tree trimmers. In total, the utility said it has more than 5,000 people working on the storm.
Bruckner, who led the press conference in Bethpage with LIPA Chief Operating Officer Michael Taunton at his side, said customers who report outages should have power restored within 24 hours. Essentially, he said, if customers lose power Saturday morning they should expect it to return the next day.
Crews, Bruckner said, will hit communities with the largest amount of outages first and then work its way down.
National Grid announced Thursday that LIPA, the embattled utility that received strong criticism for its response to Superstorm Sandy three months ago, would not handle communications and response duties during the winter storm.
Despite the rare shift, Taunton maintained that LIPA will still be assisting restoration efforts.
“Our role here is no different in respect to any other storm,” he said, adding that LIPA will continue to provide oversight and resources that are necessary to assist National Grid, LIPA’s outgoing contractor.
Beginning next year, National Grid, which runs LIPA’s electric grid, will be replaced by Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG).
Bruckner addressed National Grid’s motivation to quickly restore power despite its impending departure by noting that its gas company will continue to serve Long Island long after it gives up the electric grid.
Bruckner said he’s confident that National Grid will be able to restore power quickly because it has secured all resources before the storm hit, apparently something LIPA was unable to do before Sandy struck despite advanced warning.
The utility’s biggest concern is the wind, which can caused downed trees and power lines.
The National Weather Service said Nassau and Suffolk Counties could get hit with up to 20 inches of snow. The storms biggest impact will occur between 9 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday, the weather service noted. The agency is also expecting sustained winds of 30 mph and wind gusts reaching 60 mph.