Over 7,000 customers in the Finger Lakes region will experience a power outage on Saturday due to ‘essential upgrades’ by National Grid. The company plans to replace two aging structures that support a transmission line, causing the outage from approximately 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.
National Grid officials acknowledged the inconvenience, especially during this time of year, but stressed the urgency of these upgrades for system reliability. National Grid Spokesman David Bertola provided some context to the work and how it was identified. “National Grid frequently performs work to ensure that customers have robust, resilient and reliable service that they’ve come to rely on. Oftentimes, this kind of work occurs without service interruptions or the need to plan an outage,” he explained. “However, during routine inspections of our equipment in November, we learned that repairs needed to immediately be made to two wooden poles that support a transmission line.”
Time was of the essence when it came to these repairs, so it was scheduled to take place next week after being discovered during the fall. “If we don’t make these repairs, there’s a risk that people in the area would experience an unplanned outage, such as the kind that results from a severe storm that potentially could impact even more poles, and more customers over a longer time period than what we’ve planned on Saturday,” Bertola continued. “During such a storm, we may not have the ability to access roads to get to the damaged equipment and make the repairs.”
On Saturday, Bertola said National Grid will have 20 crew members working simultaneously on the two poles that will be replaced with steel structures.
The blackout will impact residents in Livingston, Ontario, and Monroe counties, specifically in Avon, Caledonia, Lima, Livonia, Bloomfield, West Bloomfield, Henrietta, Honeoye Falls, Mendon, and Rush.
Earlier this week, the Ontario County Sheriff’s Office published a map of the impacted area. It took no time for frustrated residents in western Ontario County to sound off about the ‘planned’ outage, which many said notification was lackluster.
“How can a planned power outage be allowed in the middle of January in Western New York,” wrote one frustrated resident. Others voiced concern about town boards not having a say in when these ‘planned’ outages occur.
“Why do the residents not get a say in these planned outages? Any outage that is planned in advance should have to go through each and every town board and there should be plenty of notice given to the residents so that public comments can be given,” Brenda Burkett wrote.
To assist those affected, warming centers will be available in these counties. In Livingston County, residents can visit East Avon Fire Department, Avon Fire Department, Lima Ambulance Base, and J.W. Jones Hall. In Monroe County, facilities include the Mendon Fire Department Community Room and Rush Fire Department Building, among others. Ontario County will offer warming centers at Ionia Fire Department and West Bloomfield Congregational Church.
However, residents say that doesn’t go far enough. “Even if there are warming centers, you are not going to get people, especially seniors, to leave their pets in a freezing cold home all day long,” Osborn Midge wrote. “Perhaps having a dog is not that much of an issue, but people are not going to leave their cats or birds or other pets behind.”
One common theme in the complaints about the planned outage was the weeks’ notice and final timing of repairs. Completing them in January — instead of warmer months closer to spring or summer — left many feeling like it was less planned, and more of a surprise to National Grid.