Storms Finn and Gerri Test the Co-op
Vermont experienced two back-to-back windstorms in January that caused major damage and a high number of power outages in VEC territory and elsewhere. The first, Storm Finn, hit overnight into Wednesday January 10, causing significant damage to VEC’s system in just a few hours. Restoration began after winds died down on Wednesday and crews were able to restore a fair bit of the system, only to be set back by a second storm that struck three days later. This one, Storm Gerri, blew in on January 13 and left further destruction in its path.
“These storms were very strong, with wind gusts in some areas exceeding 75 mph for an extended period of time,” said Chief Operating Officer Peter Rossi. He said there were hundreds of trees down, including extremely large ones, that put dozens of spans of wire on the ground and breaking over 60 poles. Many of the broken poles were in the rights-of-way and required specialized off-road pole setting equipment.
“The damage was not consistent, however, across our territory,” he said. “Some areas such as eastern Lamoille County saw very little wind while areas in western Lamoille and Caledonia Counties experienced two very significant events. We were also contending with other elements such as rain, sleet, snow, and freezing temperatures” he noted.
In addition to our 28 VEC Line workers and approximately two dozen VEC (and ex-VEC) field support personnel and mechanics, a total number of 90 additional line workers and other personnel came to assist restorations. They included municipal utilities from the Massachusetts towns of Groveland, Holden, Littleton, Middleton and Sterling. Other support came from Vermont utilities Washington Electric Co-op, Burlington Electric Department, and additional municipal departments from Enosburg, Morrisville, Orleans, Stowe, Swanton. We also had private contractors Riggs Distler, JCR, Grattan Line, and Charles Curtis. Line workers were supported by approximately 40 Tree Clearing personnel from TTS, Trees LLC, and H. Bros and several Traffic Crews from ADA and Green Mountain Flagging. There were almost 170 individuals throughout the event working in the field which doesn’t count the almost 60 employees providing Control Center support, management, logistics, safety, and other activities. It truly was an all-hands on deck event.
When our team is working 16-hour days, they need to be well-fueled to keep up the hard work. A huge shout-out to local restaurants and individuals who provide a 6 a.m. breakfast, bag lunches, and dinner after long, cold days in the field.
Broken poles (46 from Storm Finn and 15 from Storm Gerri): 61
Meters restored by conclusion of both storms: 29,708
Maximum number of members without power at one time during the events: 9,451