Capital Region

Lights back on in Capital Region after Isaias but extensive outages persist elsewhere

Governor declares state of emergency as 700,000-plus await power restoration downstate
A falling tree hit this tow truck on Summit Avenue in Schenectady during Tuesday's storm.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
A falling tree hit this tow truck on Summit Avenue in Schenectady during Tuesday's storm.

Categories: Fulton Montgomery Schoharie, News, Saratoga County, Schenectady County

ALBANY — Twenty-four hours after Tropical Storm Isaias blew through, most Capital Region residents were back to normal Wednesday, with electricity restored to all but a handful of the more than 30,000 businesses and homes that were knocked offline here.

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, National Grid was still working on just a handful of the outages it sustained Tuesday, when nearly 50,000 customers lost power in Northeast New York. About 400 customers were out in the Capital Region. 

NYSEG, meanwhile, was showing only 43 without power in the Capital Region; 5,177 customers lost power in its Mechanicville service sector.

In upstate New York, at least, a lot of things worked in National Grid’s favor. It knew the storm wouldn’t reach too far west, so it was able to move crews and equipment east to the Capital Region to await the wind and rain.

It had no such luck in Rhode Island — 90,000 customers there were without power Wednesday morning, and the utility was estimating restoration would take until Friday in some cases.

The situation was even worse in more-populous Massachusetts, where 175,000 National Grid customers were without power.

In the Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island regions of New York, 700,000 people spent Wednesday without power, prompting Gov. Andrew Cuomo to declare a state of emergency there.

He excoriated the utilities in those areas for not keeping their customers updated on power restoration, ordering the Public Service Commission to investigate “how such a failure could have taken place.”

Cuomo did not say exactly what the utilities should have done differently. Most maintain a real-time map on their websites that shows exactly what areas are without power, how many are affected and when they are expected to get their power back.

A Daily Gazette business journalist, for example, was able to use an iPhone to check the details of a power outage at his Guilderland home Monday morning, determine that it affected only a handful of customers on his street and an apartment complex on the other side of a ravine, and see that National Grid expected to have the power back on by 9:45 a.m. The target was missed by a few minutes, but the lights came back on before 10 a.m.

PSEG Long Island’s real-time map showed 20,108 outages affecting 293,702 of its 1,162,375 customers as of 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, and any of those customers could zoom in to their neighborhood for an update.

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