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National Grid Prepares for Sandy after Past Mistakes

WHITINSVILLE, Mass. (WGGB) — Friday was deadline day for power companies to tell Governor Deval Patrick how they are preparing for Hurricane Sandy.

The massive storm is arriving around the one year anniversary of last year’s October snowstorm. It left millions across the area without power, something National Grid says they are doing everything they can to prevent from happening again.

The closer Hurricane Sandy inches towards New England, the faster National Grid employees work at the company’s New England supply warehouse in Whitinsville, Massachusetts. It’s Dan Prior’s job to make sure power crews have the resources they need to get the lights back on during an outage.

“We are quite sure, and we make sure all the time, that we have adequate quanities of each because the demand comes in and it has to be met,” Prior said during a tour of the facility.

Poles, transformers, wires, or screws. Prior says the warehouse has it all. Supplies are already being shipped to National Grid facilities around New England, and nine additional staging areas have been added in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire in advance of Hurricane Sandy.

When one of the items is sent out into the field, a replacement is almost immediately brought to the supply center.

“It runs in a 24 hour cycle and we’ve already given all of our suppliers a heads up that we expect them to be on a 24 hour, 7 day a week basis,” Prior said.

Those are updated preparations, after the state fined National Grid millions of dollars for a poor performance in Hurricane Irene and last year’s October’s snow storm.

“We didn’t meet the expectations of our customers, quite honestly we didn’t meet our own expectations,” National Grid spokesman Fred Kuebler said. “So we put a lot of things in place to help us be better prepared and to respond to these storms.”

Kuebler says for Sandy, the company has extra help already on standby and has made improvements to keep communications lines open before, during, and after the storm.

“We have National Grid employees throughout our service area that go and co-locate with these emergency operations centers,” Kuebler said.

Western Mass Electric Company, meanwhile, is making similar preparations for the storm.

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