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Foxborough Officials Fed Up with National Grid … Are You?

Members of the Foxborough Board of Selectmen vented their frustrations regarding the town’s most recent power outage following Hurricane Sandy Monday.

Foxborough Board of Selectmen chair James DeVellis is angry – as are many of the residents – following the town’s third significant power outage over the last year caused by a storm.

“This is the third time now and I’m sick of it,” DeVellis said. “I’m tired of it. The same thing being said now [by National Grid regarding the power outages] was said last year.”

DeVellis and other Foxborough officials vented their frustrations to National Grid liaison Tom Coughlin Tuesday, calling the power outage situation a bad running “joke” for the town.

“When the newspapers and television crews set up on our Common the day before [the storm] to say, ‘I wonder what’s going to happen to Foxborough,’ it’s almost a joke,” DeVellis said. … I don’t know what it is about Foxborough that makes it the big joke of electricity but it can’t continue.”

According to Coughlin - and explained by Town Manager Kevin Paicos - what it is about Foxborough that makes it susceptible to power outages is the Union Loop.

“The primary problem to the extent that we were out of power until now is not local trees,” Paicos said. “Primary problem is outside of town borders and is once again the so-called Union Loop, which sync large transmission lines like the giant 200-foot towers that you see come into a large sub-station in Attleboro. From Attleboro, another line known as the Union Loop, which is literally a loop, distributes power like spokes off a wheel. Our power comes from that Union Loop.”

Paicos said two cross-country towers blew over Monday, which feed the Attleboro sub-station, forcing Foxborough to lose power.

“Union Loop has 12 sections to it and five of those sections were compromised in some way. ... That was what was responsible for most of the community being without power.”

That same Union Loop was responsible for both power outages following storms last year and is an issue that needs to be addressed between the town and National Grid moving forward.

“Saying it’s the Union Loop and we’re going to try better next year is not going to work,” DeVellis said. “The businesses are tired of it … I’m tired of it.”

Paicos called the situation with the Union Loop “outrageous” and said the town needs to address the problem much sooner rather than later.

“I think in the days to come, what we will need to ascertain is how National Grid allowed the Union Loop to once again be compromised,” Paicos said. … “It was absolutely clear that the Union Loop was the weak point in the system.”

Paicos told selectmen National Grid spent “a great deal of time” working on the Union Loop because maintenance had been neglected on the loop for years, which resulted in the two outages last year.

“[The repairs were] not done to the degree of success that would have assured [the town] we would not suffer a fairly significant power outage.”

DeVellis along with board members Lynda Walsh and Lorraine Brue were without power Tuesday morning following a storm that Foxborough Fire Chief Roger Hatfield and Paicos said produced “fairly minimal conditions.” The message from the town to the utility company Tuesday was clear – enough is enough.

“We’ve got businesses, we’ve got families, we’ve got schools cancelled,” DeVellis said. “I went to the DPU and testified and all we heard was Union Loop. … This is unacceptable and I’m tired of it.”

Further frustrating selectmen was the fact that neighboring towns – once again – experienced minimal outages during and after a storm.

“I checked with Mansfield and while we lost 75 percent their number was 38,” DeVellis said. “It wasn’t 38 percent, it was 38 customers and by 10 p.m. they were all up and running.”

Said Walsh: “I’m driving to work and going through Sharon and it’s all lit up and Stoughton is all lit up and Canton is all lit up and my little town I’m leaving in the dark. It’s frustration.”

Paicos said this is a major concern for the town moving forward because there will be more storms in the future.

“We’ve got to get this fix so it doesn’t happen again because we are certainly going to have additional storms,” Paicos said.

DeVellis said he didn’t know what the town’s options were presently but that the board will have those discussions.

“I don’t know what our options are,” DeVellis said. “The easiest thing would be to say privatize it but it’s not going to happen right now. … I don’t know what we are going to do but it is going to start at this table, we are just sick and tired of it.”

In the more immediate future, the Board of Selectmen has requested a visit by National Grid president Marcy Reed.

“I see a lot of promises, what ifs and we’ll be there [from National Grid] but at the end of the day it goes away and we are left without electricity,” DeVellis said. … “[I’d like to request] someone from National Grid to come in front of the Board of Selectmen and provide answers to questions.”

Coughlin said he would relay the message to National Grid and offered continued apologies for the situation.

“I can’t say enough how sorry we are,” Coughlin said. “If we are saying things and giving false hope and the things we say we fixed didn’t get fixed well then obviously those are questions we have to answer.”

TELL US: Are you fed up with National Grid? What do you think the town needs to do in order to address this issue?

ellen October 31, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Okay, the selectman are mad and they should be. But least years power outage fiasco should have been the selectman's " call to action ". The selectman should be investigating other ways of ensuring we do not have lengthy, if any, power outages. If the selectman used the same energy that they used to stop the casino, then maybe we would have a solution for this awhile ago. A pro-active response needs to be made NOT a reactive response.
Richard Towle October 31, 2012 at 05:53 PM
I'm fed up with the Board of Selectmen. Leaders they are not They don't seem to get along with anybody, have destroyed the relationship with the Kraft group and blame everyone else for theur shortcoming. Bring back Larry Harrigton, there was a good BOS member. I speak with expierence ahving served on town board for 20 plus years in a town where cooperation was the keyword.
Erica R October 31, 2012 at 06:43 PM
It is very frustrating to be without power for extended times, but personally I am impressed that power was restored within one day for my neighborhood this time, and was even impressed last year, given the destruction I saw everywhere. I think people are judging National Grid a bit harshly - these have been some incredible storms doing unprecedented damage all over the eastern seaboard, and to restore power within 24 hours seems like a miracle to me. Some improvement in communication from National Grid would be nice, but I don't think we can expect quicker restoration of powerafter such incidents without paying a lot more for service.
James Cerette October 31, 2012 at 07:56 PM
I am just wondering why National Grid is paying their employees to answer phone calls. Nations Grid employees can't answer one question and give no information whatsoever. They are useless. So here we go again....Its time for each resident of each town have a town meeting & vote National Grid away....far away. Never had these problems until "they" came to town. Signed..."totally disgusted".
G Parker October 31, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Hope the selectmen are able to make some headway on this. It really IS ridiculous. National Grid is not playing fair. Such a waste of resources and manpower fixing something over and over (Union Loop for one) which should have been fixed right in the first place. I was lucky that this time I did not lose power (a few blips) as opposed to many days last year in both storms. I checked the National Grid outage site and the map was not changed at all for days - they do not know what is going on even within National Grid. The notifications I signed up for were simply notices of what to do to keep safe - not one peep about restorations, etc. We hope the Board can be forceful enough to make National Grid resolve this Union Loop problem before the next big one (which we can count on, based on the climate issues we are seeing every year).
John Franchitto October 31, 2012 at 11:11 PM
I am in total agreement with you. I am fed up with both National Grid and the Board. They are a one trick pony that lost all sense of leadership when the casino issue went away. And with that, they have antagonized the Kraft group, who has always been a great neighbor and citizen of this town. They have no direction and we are drifting aimlessly as a town.
Dennis Naughton October 31, 2012 at 11:18 PM
This is not a logical argument. The people decide in last May's electiion.
Dennis Naughton October 31, 2012 at 11:21 PM
Let's be careful not to have low expectations, or National Grid will be only too happy to follow. The context for judging this most recent powere outage ought to be the severity of the storm here. It was not very severe, yet we lost power.
R. Hood November 01, 2012 at 12:10 AM
Richard and John, couldn't agree with you more. I sense a majority of residents have had it with the current BOS.
Shannon Sylvia November 01, 2012 at 11:06 AM
I agree about the notifications. They were useless, annoying and helped to drain my cell phone battery even more while I had no power. How can I get myself off their senseless notification list?
ellen November 01, 2012 at 03:30 PM
I agree. The current Board of Selectman create more problems and are unable to work effectively with local businesses. They have destroyed the towns relationship with Kraft. They cannot look at the "big picture" and tends to remain in a closed box.
G Parker November 01, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Notifications - National Grid's website has this information to opt out - You can opt out of receiving text messages at any time by texting the word STOP to NGRID (64743). Text messages can also be paused by texting PAUSE to NGRID (64743) and then resumed by texting RESUME to NGRID (64743).

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