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Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Million Still Without Power–Were Utilities Prepared?

Steve Music works to replace a power line damaged by Tropical Storm Irene in Buxton, Maine Monday. (AP)

Steve Music works to replace a power line damaged by Tropical Storm Irene in Buxton, Maine Monday. (AP)

Days after Hurricane and Tropical Storm Irene hit the east coast, over a million homes remain without power.

In New York, Governor Cuomo reportedly had to track down a senior executive of National Grid in Europe, where the utility company is headquartered.

In Connecticut, a dairy farm is running milking machines and fans to cool cows off a tractor  hooked to a generator, burning about $350 worth of diesel fuel a day.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has launched an inquiry asking utility companies to provide an accounting of how they prepared for the storm and responded to it.

Ted Kury, Director of Energy Studies at the Public Utility Research Center at the University of Florida says companies walk a fine line when preparing for storms.

If they bring in too few crews for a storm, they risk frustrating residents in the case of power outages that take a long time to resolve.

But if companies over-prepare, they risk upsetting customers if they have to raise rates because of the costs they incurred.

Kury says that there needs to be more communication between the power companies and the states before and during disasters to make sure that utility companies respond to disasters appropriately.

Guest:

  • Ted Kury, Director of Energy Studies, Public Utility Research Center at the University of Florida

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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