Eversource: New Switches, Part of Planned Rate Hike, Helped Limit Power Outages In 2019 | New Hampshire Public Radio

Eversource: New Switches, Part of Planned Rate Hike, Helped Limit Power Outages In 2019

Feb 3, 2020

A utility pole and wires are seen felled by a storm in the Monadnock region in April 2018.
Credit Eversource file photo

Eversource says recent infrastructure improvements helped reduce power outages by nearly 40 percent in New Hampshire last year.

The utility, which is the state’s largest, wants customers to pay for those upgrades as part of a pending rate increase.

Eversource says it saw fewer than 300,000 customer service interruptions of five minutes or longer in 2019, compared to 475,000 in 2018.

The numbers do not include planned, pre-announced service outages, a spokesman says, or unpreventable outliers like extreme storms. 

The company says its outages are most often caused by tree limbs landing on power lines, and are most concentrated in the Western part of the state.

Eversource is planning a battery storage pilot project in one town there, Westmoreland, which is particularly susceptible to interruptions. 

The company says last year's decrease in outages is part of a long-term trend across its New England service area toward fewer, shorter power outages.

It says one cause of the change is hundreds of new smart fuses and switches – devices that can help contain outages or remotely reroute power to affected customers.

The utility has spent $3 million on these in recent years, out of around a billion dollars total for distribution upgrades over the past decade.

Eversource is asking the state to approve a rate hike to recover these costs from ratepayers. It would add a few dollars a month to average residential customers' bills.

The Public Utilities Commission is expected to hold public hearings on that proposal in mid-April.