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Companies say power should return tomorrow

By Kelleigh Welch/Daily News staff
MetroWest Daily News
Sep 03, 2011

Power is expected to return to all areas of the state by tomorrow, National Grid and NStar officials said.

But for residents left without electricity for days, the wait is only getting more difficult.

Jim Steele, who lives on Ardmore Road in Framingham, isn't just unhappy that his power was out from 2 p.m. Sunday until 10 p.m. Thursday - he says NStar management should have prepared better for the storm, which knocked a tree into his utility lines.

He praised crews that worked several 12-plus-hour days trying to restore power.

"It's very inconvenient," said Steele, who stayed in his home throughout the week.

Bill Bard, another Ardmore Road resident, said he used his generator to power his home all week but wasn't happy that he had to spend $150 for gas to keep it running.

Ardmore Road was one of the few isolated streets without power for the past four days. Nearby Winter Street had power, and by yesterday afternoon, only 316 of the 29,638 NStar customers in Framingham were still without power.

On Winter Drive in Holliston, residents were worried about an NStar distribution transformer that was leaking into nearby wetlands.

"The Department did place absorbent pads to contain the transformer oil (which is not considered to be hazardous, as it is non-toxic, and PCB-free) as a mitigation effort until NStar could make repairs," Fire Chief Michael Cassidy wrote in an email.

NStar spokeswoman Caroline Allen said the company sent a repair crew to fix the problem yesterday.

"We're doing final restorations neighborhood by neighborhood and house by house to get power to everyone," Reed said.

In a conference call yesterday, Marcy Reed, president of National Grid Massachusetts, said 98 percent of customers should have had power restored by last night. By tomorrow, all customers should have power, she said.

"(Small local power companies and National Grid) both have challenges in limited resources in the storm, but I think we bring a lot to the table because of size. We had resources from other areas that had no impact from the storm and had access to crews across the country," Reed said. "We are working as hard as we can to restore power as soon as possible."

National Grid Chief Operations Officer Ellen Smith said 1,430 employees, some traveling from as far as Colorado, Texas and Florida, were working 16-hour shifts to restore power.

All NStar customers were expected to have power by 10 last night, according to a company update.

In Hudson and Shrewsbury, where the towns own their own light and power companies, power was restored before the end of the day Monday.

Shrewsbury Electric and Cable Operations General Manager Michael Hale said owning a power company is a significant benefit during emergencies because power can be restored quicker and more efficiently.

"All the municipal-owned utilities had power restored before the private companies," he said.

By yesterday afternoon, NStar reported 1.03 percent of Hopkinton was still without power, along with 1.32 percent of Holliston, and less than 1 percent of Wayland, Ashland and Natick. National Grid reported less than 1 percent of Marlborough, Northborough, Southborough and Westborough were still without power.

(Kelleigh Welch can be reached at 508-490-7475 or