On Saturday, January 6th, 2024, National Grid has scheduled a planned power outage affecting over 7,000 customers in parts of Monroe, Ontario, Livingston and Genesee counties in New York state. The outage is expected to last around 12 hours, from 6am to 6pm, and is part of necessary infrastructure upgrades National Grid is conducting.
While planned, the mid-winter outage has sparked some backlash from customers and businesses who will be impacted. With below freezing temperatures expected on Saturday, many are concerned about loss of heat and preparing accordingly.
National Grid has set up 13 warming stations at local fire halls and community centers for residents without power. But the outage will still cause challenges, especially for vulnerable populations and businesses counting on weekend revenue.
What Areas Will Be Impacted
The outage is concentrated in the Finger Lakes region, including parts of:
- Monroe County
- Towns of Sweden, Clarkson, Hamlin and Parma
- Ontario County
- Towns of Hopewell, Gorham and Canandaigua
- Livingston County
- Towns of Avon, Lima, Livonia and Mount Morris
- Genesee County
- Towns of Elba and Oakfield
In total, over 7,000 National Grid customers residing in these areas will have their power shut off for the 12 hour period on Saturday.
Additionally, the outage includes large shopping centers like the Honeoye Falls Marketplace and Eastview Mall. So businesses in these areas are also preparing for the significant economic impact.
Why a Planned Outage is Occurring
According to National Grid, the outage is necessary to facilitate crucial infrastructure upgrades that will improve long-term reliability in the region.
|Replace antique substation equipment
|Some equipment dates back to the 1950’s and is well beyond expected lifespans
|Upgrade transmission lines
|Over 6 miles of new higher-capacity lines will be installed
|Incorporate newer tech
|New equipment adds remote monitoring and automation capabilities
National Grid says this maintenance simply cannot be performed safely without temporarily cutting power to the area. And doing so in the winter months, when energy demand is lower, helps minimize community impact.
The company has been working since 2021 on this $58 million “Rochester Area Reliability Project”, one of the largest upgrades in National Grid’s New York service area.
Concerns Over Timing and Communication
While National Grid defends the outage as a necessary inconvenience, many customers and local officials have voiced displeasure over the short notice and winter timing.
Some key concerns include:
- only 1 month notice given
- frigid temperatures in the forecast
- vulnerability for those relying on electricity for medical devices/heat
- loss of economic activity right after the holidays
Additionally, communication about available assistance has been confusing. Only certain zip codes qualify for reimbursements, while criteria to receive a free hotel room is unclear.
Local leaders and impacted residents want more transparency and options provided for those facing real hardships. Several municipalities have even threatened lawsuits against the utility company.
Steps Residents Should Take to Prepare
To ensure safety and limit disruption, National Grid recommends customers in the impacted zone take the following precautions before Saturday:
- Charge electronic devices like phones
- Restock necessary medications
- Gather spare blankets, winter clothing
- Confirm your planned outage zone with National Grid
- Identify backup accommodations if needed
- Visit nearest warming station if without power/heat
Following these tips along with close monitoring of elderly neighbors should help communities weather the challenging Saturday as upgrades progress.
What Comes Next? Legal Action and Further Upgrades
Looking beyond this weekend, the saga may continue in courts and construction zones.
Several towns and the state consumer protection board are reviewing National Grid’s handling of the situation. Lawsuits seeking economic relief for businesses seem likely in coming weeks.
And while this phase nears completion, National Grid has indicated further infrastructure upgrades are still needed in Rochester and Buffalo over the next few years. So despite backlash, more planned outages could be on the horizon.
The company maintains that short term pain will enable long term electric grid gains for rate payers across the region. But convincing frightened frozen customers of these benefits remains an uphill battle.
Rochester First: Thousands prepare for planned National Grid outage – Most comprehensive overview
WHAM-13: Honeoye Falls businesses brace for economic impact – Details concerns of major shopping centers
WHEC-10: Businesses brace for day long power interruption – Quotes local business owners frustrated by Saturday plans
D&C: Outage to impact thousands in Rochester region – Provides National Grid’s perspective and timeline
LCN: Livingston County adds 5th warming shelter – Focused on local government assistance and response
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