State officials said 1,500 crews — an unprecedented number — were working to restore power. The officials said they hoped the number of customers without power would be cut in half by the end of the day, but cautioned that some might not get their power back until Friday.
More than 519,000 customers were without electricity at mid-morning, but by the late afternoon, the number of power outages had dropped to around 460,000.
I understand that this storm presented unusual challenges – very early, trees still had leaves, heavy snow, downed limbs, etc. But doesn’t it seem as though there have been one or two storms in each of the last few winters that are “unusual” and that result in hundreds of thousands of people being without power for about a week? Needless to say, being without power in New England for multiple days in the winter is a serious, and potentially life-threatening, problem.
I’m just wondering whether we need to rethink the model. Sure, utilities shouldn’t be required to employ thousands of line workers who would only have to work on super storm days. But maybe there’s some way of adapting the snow-plow model (most people who plow the roads are not public employees, but rather contractors who strap a plow onto their pickup when it snows) to this situation. I know, I know, it’s a lot more complicated to train someone to fix a downed power line than to plow snow. Maybe there’s some other solution.
It just seems to me that there must be a better way. Asking hundreds of thousands of MA residents to make do without power for a week or two every winter is an awfully big request.