Power Companies Warn of Widespread Outages

Many utilities are bringing in extra help to try to minimize disruptions.

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Power companies warn that Henri could bring widespread outages.

Utility workers repairing power lines after Hurricane Michael swept through Panama City, Fla., in 2018.Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Aug. 21, 2021, 6:06 p.m. ET

With powerful wind gusts, heavy rainfall and dangerous flooding soon expected to affect parts of the region as Hurricane Henri nears, officials across the New York metro area and New England are warning of possible widespread power outages.

There is precedent for concern.

When Tropical Storm Isaias tore through the region last summer, nearly three million customers lost power across Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. Some saw extensive delays for its restoration — and that storm did not make a direct hit.

Hurricane Gloria, the last hurricane to make landfall on Long Island, left 1.5 million homes without power in 1985.

Here’s how power companies are preparing for Henri:

The storm could make landfall on Long Island, with most of the area under a hurricane watch. The utility PSEG Long Island said more than 1,200 contractors and additional crews have been brought in to help. But it warned customers that outages could last seven to 10 days — or up to two weeks if the forecast worsens.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said that power companies in other regions of New York State that could be heavily affected by the storm, including National Grid and Con Edison, had also called in private contractors and additional personnel to help restore power. “I have told them clearly,” he said on Saturday, “this is what we pay the power companies to do, to be ready for storms.”

In New Jersey, the state’s largest utility, Public Service Electric & Gas, told customers to prepare for possible debris and fallen power lines but did not project an estimate for potential power losses.

Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts warned that Henri could cause at least 100,000 residents — and possibly up to 300,000 — to lose power.

The utility Eversource, which provides power to about 1.2 million customers in Connecticut, said that at least half of them could be without power for several days after the hurricane. The company said it had canceled planned vacations among some staff members so that they could help in restoration efforts.

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