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In Face of Sandy, Utilities Face Line Crew Shortage

Utilities across the state are assessing damage from tropical storm Sandy as they try to bring power back to thousands of customers.  And the state’s largest utility will do it with the help of contractors from across the country.

On a given day, PSNH has about a hundred tree and line crews at its disposal to fix power outages.  In advance of Sandy, the company managed to scrape together another hundred local contractor crews.  But PSNH spokesman Martin Murray says well before the storm hit, the company put out a call for even more help.  It’s looking for 550 more tree and line crews to bring back power to its customers.

“The challenge is that so has virtually every other utility on the East Coast north of the Carolinas," Murray says.  "They’re all looking for independent contractors to come and help them.  And basically now, there’s more demand than supply of professional line workers.”

So far, 80 crews from places like Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Missouri have shown up or are on their way.  That brings the grand total up to fewer than 300 crews.  To put that into perspective, Murray says it took more than 500 crews to bring back power to customers after Irene.  And it took up to six days for customers to get their electricity back. 

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