On the seventh anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, PSEG Long Island highlights the infrastructure and communications improvements it has made to contend with the extreme weather events that continue to affect the area. An extreme weather event can range from torrential downpours to extended hot, dry weather, to super powerful hurricanes and more.
“Our employees have been hard at work for almost six years working to provide our customers with the most reliable service possible,” said John O’ Connell, vice president Transmission & Distribution, PSEG Long Island. “Each week, approximately 4 miles of the electric system is hardened against storms, 44 miles of trees are trimmed and 120 old poles are replaced.”
PSEG Long Island took over the electric grid in 2014. It evaluated the system and the damage that occurred during Sandy to find ways to improve infrastructure design, integrate new construction standards, enhance the pole inspection program, help mitigate storm damage, and improve storm processes, technology and customer communications.
Since then, the company has launched several programs to strengthen the grid and improve system reliability. The largest of these has been a storm-hardening project funded through $729 million in funding from FEMA. All together, more than 320 distribution circuits are being upgraded or completed and more than 938 circuit miles have been storm hardened. Crews improving these circuits have:
• Replaced 24,815 poles with new poles capable of withstanding winds up to 135 mph—which is in the lower range of a category 4 hurricane.
• Used shorter cross arms on poles to help deflect falling limbs, instead of cradling them.
• Restrung 2,382 miles of thicker insulated wires to lessen the likelihood a branch will cause an electric problem if it touches the electric wires.
• Installed 887 automatic switching units to minimize the number of customers that are affected when equipment fails. The units reroute power around the failed equipment, isolating the immediate area where the damage occurred, bringing the lights back on for the surrounding customers.
During storms in 2019, these circuits experienced 42% fewer outages than unimproved circuits thanks to PSEG Long Island’s storm-hardening efforts.