ORANGE, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--As the anniversaries approach for Tropical Storm Irene and Hurricane Sandy, The United Illuminating Company (UI) has taken important steps to protect customers from the possibility of widespread, long-term outages caused by flooding of substations located in coastal areas.
Today, UI, electric subsidiary of UIL Holdings Corporation (NYSE: UIL), announced that it expects to spend approximately $11 million on measures to protect electrical substation equipment from rising waters and flooding based on the coastal nature of its service territory. These initiatives are already underway and were taken proactively at substations where flooding has occurred in the recent past, and is considered to be a possible threat. Substations identified are in New Haven and Bridgeport. Some of the measures being taken include:
- Installing flood barriers for substation yards, buildings and doors.
- Installing pumps and backup station service generators.
- Installing cameras and water-level sensors.
- Sealing substation buildings and conduits.
“These short-term initiatives were undertaken as a direct result of the extreme weather events our region has faced in recent years,” said John Prete, UIL senior vice president for electric operations and chief operating officer of UI electric operations. “After Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012, we had to temporarily de-energize several electrical substations to protect them from flood damage that could have left thousands of customers without electrical service for months.”
The measures announced today are intended to protect UI’s equipment from the same level of flooding experienced during Hurricane Sandy, plus an additional 3 feet. UI is also analyzing longer-term initiatives to protect its substations and other equipment from flood damage in the company’s preparation for severe weather and rising storm surges.
Electrical substations serve as the link between long-distance high voltage transmission lines, and the lower-voltage distribution system that serves individual homes and businesses. Three New Haven substations (East Shore, Grand Avenue and Mill River) and four Bridgeport-area substations (Ash Creek, Congress, Pequonnock and Singer) were identified as at-risk of flooding.
“The electric industry standard for construction of these substations is for the 100-year flood,” said Joe Thomas, UI’s vice president of electric system operations. “We met the national standard and even added a foot when these substations were originally built years ago. Unfortunately, we’ve seen some very unusual conditions in the last two years, and we believe it’s prudent to take an even more aggressive approach to protect our equipment and the reliability of service to our customers.”
Aug. 28 will mark the two-year anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene’s arrival in Connecticut. In the immediate aftermath of the storm, UI briefly had to shut down two Bridgeport substations to prevent flooding damage that could have caused long-term customer outages. In all, UI restored a cumulative total of 210,000 customer outages in the days after the storm.
Just over a year later, on Oct. 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy struck Connecticut. This time, the encroaching storm surge forced UI temporarily to take three Bridgeport substations offline to prevent more serious damage. In all, UI restored a cumulative total of 280,000 customer outages following Sandy.
UI received national recognition for its recovery efforts after both storms, winning the Edison Electric Institute’s 2011 and 2012 Emergency Award for Restoration.
About UIL Holdings Corporation:
Headquartered in New Haven, Connecticut, UIL Holdings Corporation (NYSE:UIL) is a diversified energy delivery company serving more than 700,000 electric and natural gas utility customers in 66 communities across two states, with combined total assets of over $4 billion.
UIL is the parent company of The United Illuminating Company (UI), The Southern Connecticut Gas Company (SCG), Connecticut Natural Gas Corporation (CNG), and The Berkshire Gas Company (Berkshire), each more than 100 years old. UI provides for the transmission and delivery of electricity and other energy related services for Connecticut's Greater New Haven and Bridgeport areas. SCG and CNG are natural gas distribution companies that serve customers in Connecticut, while Berkshire Gas serves natural gas customers in western Massachusetts. UIL employs more than 1,850 people in the New England region.
Edison Electric Institute Winner
Emergency Response Award for Restoration, 2011 & 2012
Emergency Response Award for Assistance, 2012