SOURCE: Central Vermont Public Service Corporation

Central Vermont Public Service Corporation

March 03, 2011 08:10 ET

CVPS Honored for Storm Response

RUTLAND, VT--(Marketwire - March 3, 2011) -  The Edison Electric Institute today honored Central Vermont Public Service (NYSE: CV) with the association's "Emergency Recovery Award" for outstanding power restoration efforts in the wake of a massive two-part weather event in February 2010. This is the third time CVPS has earned this honor.

The award is presented annually to U.S. and foreign companies that face untoward circumstances caused by extraordinary events and put forth outstanding efforts to restore service to the public. Winners were chosen by a panel of judges following an international nomination process, and the awards were presented during EEI's Spring CEO meetings.

The "1-2 Punch Storm," as it became known, was an unprecedented two-part snow and wind storm that knocked out service to hundreds of thousands of customers in the Northeast. Beginning on Feb. 23, 2010, the four-day weather event produced up to 4 feet of snow and winds approaching hurricane strength. CVPS, with a total of 159,000 customers, faced a record 104,872 outages over the course of the extended-duration event and mounted an extraordinary response. Nearly 67,000 individual customers were affected, some of whom lost service more than once.

Either part of the storm event, in itself, would have ranked as one of the company's 10 worst storms in history. Together, they affected 42 percent of CVPS customers, with as many as 27,000 customers without power at any one time. The duration of the weather event meant that even as crews worked to restore service in some areas, new outages occurred in others.

"In many ways, the storm was a worst-case scenario envisioned in our storm preparedness training, yet we returned service quickly and safely," said Joe Kraus, senior vice president for customer service, engineering and operations. "While we and our customers would love a break from the major storms that have repeatedly hammered our service territory in recent years, the award is testament to the commitment and hard work of our employees. They are among the industry's elite."

"When a storm hits, CVPS's employees are second to none," said Jeffrey Wimette, business manager for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 300. "CVPS, its employees and the union share a deep concern for customers and have developed a true partnership on their behalf."

CVPS relied on private advance weather forecasts to alert the public to the pending storms and to strategically stage recovery crews, with assistance from utilities in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine and Ontario, Canada. All told, more than 600 tree cutters, line workers, schedulers and support staff were organized to repair the damage, logging 45,000 man-hours on the job.

In addition, the company worked closely with news media to inform customers of its progress, repair estimates and safety issues. While there were no significant injuries, the storm provided a critical reminder of the importance of customer safety. CVPS created a new statewide advertising campaign following the event to ensure that clear, easy-to-understand safety information is available to all Vermonters.

"Handling one storm well would have been a major feat -- managing both safely and efficiently marks one of the greatest achievements in the company's 81-year history and reflects the highest possible standard of customer service," EEI President Tom Kuhn said. "It is a true pleasure to honor Central Vermont with this award."

CVPS also won the award following the 2007 "Nor'icane" that devastated Rutland County, and a second time after the 2008 ice storm that leveled much of the electric system in southern Vermont and elsewhere in New England.

"These storms present us with incredible logistical challenges, but our employees have made huge sacrifices to overcome them," CVPS Executive Chairman Bob Young said. "After 24 years at CVPS, I have never been more proud of our employees. It's impossible to understand the depth of their commitment without spending time with them on the job, but it is nearly immeasurable." 

Larry Reilly, who began work as CVPS's ninth president on Tuesday, said the company's reputation for service quality, customer care and reliability was one of the factors that drew him to the job. "Despite a very rural, rugged service territory, CVPS employees have a hard-earned reputation for excellence within the industry," Reilly said. "That reputation is disproportionate to our relatively small size, and is a tribute to our 517 employees."

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