Central Hudson Sacked by Storm Damages

The storm on Saturday, Nov. 3, resulted in a series of electrical blackouts across Ulster County, leaving some unlucky New Paltz residents in the dark as to when power would return. 

This would not be the first-time the Central Hudson Gas & Electric New Paltz customers have experienced power loss within the past 30 days. On Oct. 17, a tree fell on a power line near Main Street and caused power loss for 503 residents in the town and 765 in the village.  

Central Hudson Gas & Electric predicted on Nov. 2 that the storm would have sustained winds ranging from 20-30 mph and gusts of winds with speeds up to 60 mph. They also reported that the combination of heavy rainfall and strong wind would most likely cause an interruption in electrical service throughout the storm. 

It is still undetermined as to exactly how many New Paltz residents lost power on Nov. 3.  

Central Hudson’s Media Relations Director John Maserjian said that the persisting winds and rain from last weekend’s storm loosened the soil where trees were rooted and, in some cases, caused healthy trees to fall down and hit power lines. 

Maserjian said that power outages can be caused for multiple reasons, such as animals, automobile accidents and sometimes even equipment failure, but power outages are most often caused by severe weather conditions and trees. 

Fourth-year anthropology major Briana Sullivan reported losing power twice this past October and described the power outages to be really inconvenient.

“The outages have made it difficult for me to complete assignments and papers in a timely manner,” Sullivan said. “Also, since they only sometimes let you know if there’s going to be an outage it’s hard to plan around them.”

Third-year French and communication disorders major, Alina Schroeder lives in the village and has reported only losing power once within the last 30 days.

“I mean [the power outages were not] pleasant but I’m usually on campus so it didn’t really have a negative impact,” she said. 

Central Hudson Gas & Electric uses two primary methods to attempt to reduce the incidences of outages. The first is an extensive tree-trimming program where the company invests about $20 million annualy to mainain tree branches and limbs away from power lines alongside the roads. 

According to Maserjian, many of the trees that fall on powerlines are located on private property, so the company will identify those trees as “likely to fall in the future” and will work with the property owners to remove the trees with their permission. 

“We have done a study of trees in the mid-Hudson Valley. It’s one of the most densely populated areas of tree growth in the country,” Maserjian said. “Trees define the mid-Hudson Valley in terms of natural beauty, but it also can be challenging in terms of the electric system, particularly during storms.”   

The company’s second initiative is to continuously rebuild and update older electric distribution lines since many of them were installed up to 60 years ago. Central Hudson Gas & Electric improves the electric infrastructure by installing new wires and poles that are generally stronger and taller than the ones previously installed. 

“So, [those methods have] proven to reduce the incidents of outages,” Maserjian said. “However, we must recognize that severe weather will likely cause outages even with these measures.”