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CVPS Declined Assistance From LED During Blackout
by Todd Wellington
After Monday's high winds knocked trees onto a Central Vermont Public Service Corp. transmission line on Rocky Ridge in St. Johnsbury, damaging it in four places, all electricity to the Lyndonville Electric Department power grid was cut off.
And with 5,000 LED customers in 11 towns powerless and darkness fast approaching, LED general manager Ken Mason was more than happy to help expedite the repairs any way he could. In fact, Mason had an LED line crew equipped with chain saws standing by on the Lyndon-St. Johnsbury town line ready to move in and assist CVPS.
But when Mason, who first located and reported the location of the damaged line, offered the services of his crew to CVPS, he was turned down.
"I volunteered assistance at about 4:30 p.m. and I was declined," Mason said.
Mason made the offer to a CVPS crew in St. Johnsbury after locating the downed line himself and informing the CVPS garage of its location around 4 p.m. "They said, 'No, we can take care of it,'" said Mason.
CVPS declined the LED offer despite having its own workforce severely stretched dealing with the outages caused by thunderstorms that affected an estimated 17,000 electric customers throughout Essex and Caledonia counties.
And although CVPS spokesman Jack Crowther said that fixing the LED outage was made a "top priority" by the utility and that one crew had been immediately assigned to the line after the problem was detected, he confirmed Wednesday that work did not begin in earnest on the damaged areas until approximately 10:30-11:00 p.m. - more than six hours after the blackout - when a second crew was called in from the Bradford area.
And as the blackout continued into the night, the CVPS estimate for repair of the problem stretched from a few hours to several, with power not being restored until 1:45 a.m.
"Our frustration," said Mason, "was that we would tell our customers one thing and then it would keep getting postponed."
Mason said he has been discussing his concerns about the events of Monday night with CVPS and is forwarding a four-page report on the subject to the Lyndonville Village Trustees.