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she said. It is served by the Derry Line for 8,000 homes and the Hooksett Line for 2,300 homes. The forest and the trees Councilor John Farrell

said, "Your circuits are daisy-chained throughout the community. Why are there so few circuits? A circuit goes down, and 5,000 people are out. Is this normal?" "It's normal in the in-

dustry," Sandler respond- ed. He described the three sections of an electric cir- cuit, which are roadside, center and "field side" and said if a tree comes down on all three phases, the lights go out. Sandler said the circuits have a "trip, reclose" factor where the power "tries to come back on" twice and then is finally tripped.

LaRocca said PSNH has an annual budget of $14 million for tree trim- ming and removal, com- pared to $6 million in 2003. The company em- ploys six full-time arbor- ists who report to Allen, and also contracts with 100 tree crews from the Asplundh company. They trim trees over 13,000 miles of line, she said.

While most towns are on a four-to five-year cycle for trimming, Londonder- ry is on a four-year cycle. The clearance standard is 8 feet to each side, 10 feet below the power line and 15 feet above the line, she said. "We also do enhanced and mid-cycle tree trimming," she said. "We remove 8,500 hazards a year." Vegetation Specialist Bob Allen said Irene im- pacted only 125,000 homes, or 25 percent of PSNH's customer base. The "Snow- tober" storm was different, knocking out power in 237,080 homes. One of the problems, he said, was that the trees still had leaves on them, making the impact greater when they hit the wires. The other problem, he said, was that the entire Northeast was impacted, and it was difficult to obtain crews from neigh- boring states. Where was everybody? But Councilors and com- munity members wondered why they didn't see more trucks, earlier. Resident Julie Hempfield said, "I was out of power for five days and I never saw a truck." Councilor Joe Green said,

to murmurs of agreement from the audience, "Why did- n't we see work crews for two or three days?" LaRocca responded that

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PSNH starts working on the problems at substa- tions. "We're not on the main roads, so people don't see us," she said. Yergeau added, "We did

have crews in Londonder- ry the first day." He said they were restoring power to "the places people need to go - restaurants, super- markets." He said crews did a feed down Mammoth Road to Nashua Road and the main commercial dis- trict the first day.

The Hooksett-based crews

were on the roads the first day, Frazier agreed, but were off the main roads and not necessarily visible. Councilors observed that better communication would help to put people's minds at rest. "How hard can it be?" Farrell asked. "You have four circuits. You can tell people, 'We're working on Circuit One.'" "That wouldn't mean that much to them," San- dler responded.

"It would give them hope," Farrell countered. "Twenty-five percent of the town could say, "They're here!"

Councilors told the util-

ity representatives that a regular update would be welcome in places like the emergency shelter at Lon- donderry High School. PSNH also went under

the microcsope for its tree- trimming efforts, both before and after a storm. Resident Tony DeFrancesco said dur- ing the last "event," a van traveling north on Mam-

moth Road hit a tree lying in the travel lane - 4 1/2 days into the outage. Town Councilor Tom Dolan told Allen, "You must have metrics on the tree trimming - the number of crews per road, the num- ber of crews per customer." Allen said the agency would get back to the town on that. For Satur- day morning, he said, he would speak to tree trim- ming, and said he had expanded from 75 crews to 100 crews.

Dolan suggested Allen expand his trimming. "Instead of 15 feet above, why don't you go 30 feet - or to the sky?" he said. Dolan also asked how the trimming cycle was determined. Allen said after Hurricane Gloria in the 1980s, a specialist came in, determined the growth cycle for trees found in the state, and told them the amount each species was expect- ed to grow over four or five years. It's not a national standard, he said, because there are differ- ent trees in every region. Financial responsibility Council Chairman Sean O'Keefe said he's been through five outages since 2008, lost $2,000 worth of food from his freezer, and lost work time. "There is a problem," he said. A self- described "weather buff," he said he remembers many storms, and in earli- er years, nobody lost power to this extent.

"We are pawns," O'Keefe said. "The National Grid makes fistfuls from us." O'Keefe's wants are simple: "I want to write a check to PSNH - and know I have power on when I get home." For now, he said, he'll work with Caron on pre- ventive measures, help with the opening of an Emergency Management Center, and find more effi- cient ways for residents to report their outages. "We'll force-feed the infor- mation to you if that's what it takes," he said. But what it's really going to take, O'Keefe said, is trimming trees. Allen said more tree- trimming would take plan- ning and economic re- sources, to which O'Keefe responded, "We pay the highest rates in the nation. You can afford it.” A fax machine? Residents also urged utility staff to ramp up their technology. Hemp- field said she couldn't access information from her Smart Phone. She sug- gested PSNH have protect- ed passwords and online information for customers. Richard Irvine, anoth-

er resident, said that for the past four storms, he has called PSNH and "The call center was inundated. Nothing happened." In the October snowstorm, he made six calls, and finally went out and found a crew member to see what was happening, he said.


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Dolan asked if PSNH would get a Smart Phone application to keep resi- dents informed of restora- tion efforts. Skelton said New Hampshire was not at a point where it could use them.

"It takes two years to develop it," Farrell said. "If you start tomorrow, we could have it in two years." Skelton agreed to talk to the project team about apps. O'Keefe urged PSNH to work on alternate means of communication. "When people don't have power, they don't have phones," he said.

And both Councilors and community members expressed amazement that PSNH was still using a fax machine to communicate with constituents. "We know it's dated and we need to move on," LaRocca said. After the meeting, the

Town Council and Caron met to identify several action items. These include investi- gating the feasibility of a one- way Twitter feed on the town website, to keep residents informed of outages and res- toration efforts; an enhanced communication plan for both citizens and the Council; and more flexibility for PSNH to be able to trim trees. One of the concerns Sat-

urday was scenic areas such as Adams Road, where PSNH has to come before the Plan- ning Board in order to trim. Another issue, Caron said Monday, was ability to trim in rights-of-way.

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