Tag Archives: CL&P

Our Ospreys: The Sequel

As reported yesterday, Westport’s ospreys have returned to their (relocated) nest, high above Fresh Market.

Drivers regularly stop to gawk. But busy Route 1 is not the only place in town to spot these magnificent raptors.

Ospreys

Three other platforms exist here. Two were created by CL&P (in their pre-Eversource days), in partnership with the Westport Conservation Commission.

CL&P set old utility poles at Longshore. One was on the right side of the exit road, near the 12th fairway. It’s hosted a nesting pair for at least 5 or 6 years.

The 2nd pole was set in the back of the guest parking lot, to the left of the marina. A pair nested there for a while last year, but seems not to have had success with eggs or chicks.

A 3rd platform exists to the east of Burying Hill Beach. In a private yard next to the seawall — erected, probably, by the homeowners — it has been home to some successful nesting ospreys.

Meanwhile, alert reader Mary Ann West reports that purple martin “scout” arrived at Sherwood Island yesterday. Scouts  venture ahead of the flock after spending the winter in South America.

Tina Green spotted the early arrival as she helped set up 24 “gourd condos” in Connecticut’s 1st state park.

purple martin at Sherwood Island

The “condos” (pictured above) consist of 12 “homes” per pole. They were established outside the Sherwood Island Nature Center last year.

The houses are removed after each nesting season, cleaned and put up just before the birds arrive. That keeps more invasive species from taking over the colony. Last year, 105 new featherless baby bird residents were monitored by volunteers.

The fledglings were banded in early July, before they prepared to fly the coop back to their wintering grounds. The Westport band is red, so if you see a bird sporting a red metallic band, it’s one of ours.

Another pole with 12 condos will be added soon, making a total of 36 purple martin couples very happy.

Sherwood Island is also home to 2 other Westport ospreys. The park’s couple — Will and Kate — are due back to their nest soon. It’s set up in the marsh outside of the Nature Center.

You can see it there — or on the “osprey cam” (click here).

The big debate in Westport these days is over affordable housing. Ospreys and purple martins seem to have solved that problem. Perhaps we can ask CL&P/Eversource and Sherwood Island to help the humans too?

The Sherwood Island "osprey cam," earlier this morning.

The Sherwood Island “osprey cam,” earlier this morning.

The Ospreys Are Back!

In the surest sign yet that our long, nightmarish winter is giving way to spring, Westport’s favorite ospreys have returned.

Last year, they nested on a dangerous high pole near Fresh Market. After they caused a power outage in July, CL&P (now Eversource) rerouted an electrical feed, to save the magnificent birds from harm.

In October — after the birds flew south for the winter* — the utility company relocated the nest to a higher utility pole, 150 feet away. This one had fewer wires. The hope was that the ospreys would return to the less dangerous nest this spring.

They did. Today, Jo Ann Davidson observed them, home again for the summer.

Welcome back!

Ospreys 2 - Jo Ann Davidson

The ospreys' new home. (Photos/Jo Ann Davidson)

The ospreys’ new home. (Photos/Jo Ann Davidson)

*Something all of us should have done.

 

Customer Service (Blizzard Edition)

Someone must have told companies that — before a major weather-related calamity — they should email their customers: “We might not be here for you. But we’ll try.”

CL&POur inboxes were stuffed yesterday. CL&P told us they were already bringing in extra line crews. My condo’s management firm said they expected lots of calls, so be patient (and watch out for snow and ice).

Cablevision offered this stop-the-presses piece of advice: “If you lose electrical power to your home, your Optimum services will not work.”

Meanwhile, Frontier — which in just a few short months has accomplished the nearly impossible task of making customers wish they had AT&T back — advised, “Make sure you have food supplies, water, flashlights and a battery powered radio in case you are unable to leave your home.”

Sage advice. Except the email arrived at 9:08 p.m. — long after the snow started, and 8 minutes after Governor Malloy’s travel ban went into effect.

This works in a power outage -- though you'd have to teach your kids how to use it.

This works in a power outage — though you’d have to teach your kids how to use it.

To give Frontier credit, they did offer information that many folks (including non-Frontier customers) might not know: Customers with cordless phones who still have a traditional cordless phone can plug it directly into a wall jack.

Corded phones do not require electricity. They’ll still operate during a power outage.

Of course, by 9:08 p.m. it was too late to buy a corded phone if you didn’t already own one.

But Frontier is Usain Bolt compared to CVS. At 10:03 p.m. last night, they breathlessly emailed me: “Dan, Snow is On The Way! Don’t wait! Get storm essentials & an emergency checklist.”

It was a little late for that. But in a pinch, I could call them on my corded phone.

 

 

CL&P Saves The Ospreys

For months, an osprey nest high above a Fresh Market utility pole has fascinated Westporters.

This morning though, the raptors caused a power outage at the shopping center.

CL&P workers rushed to the scene. Merchants and shoppers gathered to watch, as crew members in 2 large buckets examined the scene.

Osprey nest

Everyone expected the nest to be removed.

Instead, the CL&P guys carefully rerouted the electrical feed a few yards away. The nest was undisturbed.

The utility company has taken a ton of hard knocks in the past few years, over their slow response to natural disasters.

This could have been a disaster of another kind. CL&P’s quick — and very wise — response should have them flying high.

3 Times Is Not A Charm

Randy Newman is an avid “06880” reader.

No, not the singer/songwriter/arranger/composer/pianist. He doesn’t live in Westport. Except for his song “Short People,” he has absolutely no connection with me.

This Randy Newman lives a normal Westport life, in a normal Westport home. It’s 3,000 square feet. He and his wife Jill have 3 kids, ages 11, 9 and 6.

The Newmans are environmentally conscious. “We have Energy Star appliances out the wazoo,” Randy says. “We have LED lights all over. I even yell at my kids to turn them off.”

The Newmans' house.

The Newmans’ house.

A while back — responding to an “06880” story about energy audits — they had one done. The house passed with flying colors.

But, Randy says, for the past few months CL&P has told the family they use 3 times the amount of energy of an average Westport home.

Surprised and curious, Jill asked friends if they received any reports. They had. In fact, their reports show multiples of the “average usage” too.

The house — built in 1986 — is in a wooded area. In the past 5 years Randy has replaced all the windows, the furnace, his HVAC system,  and the washer and dryer. The Newmans heat their water with oil.

According to the blue line, the Newmans' energy usage is 3 times the Westport aerage.

According to the blue line, the Newmans’ energy usage is 3 times the Westport aerage.

Randy is diligently trying to figure out why his usage is so relatively high. He even installed a TED 5000 energy usage meter, showing real-time consumption.
“At one point I suspected someone was stealing my electricity,” Randy says. “It wasn’t until I used TED that I learned much of my usage was from lights.” So he added even more LED lights, which led to some reduction in usage.

“Do I like A/C?” Randy asks. “Yeah. Do I have a big TV? Yeah — a couple. But 3 times the average?  I don’t watch that much TV in the cold.”

Randy wonders, “Is everyone in Westport using 3 times the Westport average?”

If so, we should change our name to Lake Wobegon: “where all the homes are above average.”

(Gotten a notice from CL&P about your energy usage? Click “Comments” to share your story. And please, use your full, real name.)

The Over-Under On Underground Wires

Yesterday’s post on the big new electrical poles on Greens Farms Road sparked a discussion about above-ground versus underground wires. Why, commenters wondered, doesn’t Westport bury its utility lines?

An alert “06880” reader with experience in the matter writes:

Undergrounding of existing overhead facilities is the most expensive option.

You need to build the entire system underground in advance, keeping the overhead in service (so the lights don’t go out), then convert 100% of all existing homes, buildings, traffic signals, street lights, etc., from an overhead service to having an underground service.

Then when all are supplied off the new (and expensive) underground systems, you return to remove all poles, overhead wires and transformers. And CL&P only handles the electric conversion. AT&T and cable TV providers also need to convert 100% of their customers to underground supply too, before removal of overhead equipment is accomplished.

At least we don't look like New York City in 1887.

At least we don’t look like New York City in 1887.

Plus, the costs of the new equipment as well as undepreciated life of the removed old overhead equipment, is paid for in advance by the town, neighborhood association or business council/chamber of commerce making the request to underground the area or town. They also provide or pay for all trenching, pavement repair and restoration required.

So, with this in mind, it’s no wonder that very few if any areas are converted to underground supply from existing overhead supply.

Examples of areas converted in the past include the very end of Hillspoint Road, from the corner where Compo Road and Soundview intersect to a point just past the third house facing the Sound from Compo (this was paid in full by 2 neighbors back in the early ’90s); a portion of the Longshore Park system, at the recently rebuilt halfway house and 10th hole tee, and another short piece where the lines run into Longshore marina and the swimming pool/tennis court area, done in 2001 as part of the rebuild of the refreshment stand and locker room building, also paid by the town/Park and Rec.

Another example was part of the South End in Stamford, where BLT is developing a massive urban renewal (and paying all the costs associated with this conversion).

I believe the portion of CL&P’s system that is now underground has grown to over 15%. Each year, a little more is added.

CL&P: Trim We Must

Down here in our little corner of Connecticut, we don’t always pay attention to Hartford. But decisions in the state capital can have big effects on us — for better or worse.

CL&P, at work.

CL&P, at work.

Earlier this month, Connecticut Light & Power participated in a public hearing in New Britain. The subject was tree trimming. It’s an important subject, following weather events like hurricanes and snowstorms that caused widespread power outages.

Under the utility company’s “Enhanced Tree Trimming” plan, it would trim or remove trees — including healthy ones — that could fall on their poles or wires. Trees on private property were included, within 8 feet of power lines.

Not many Fairfield County residents trekked up to New Britain. But plenty of citizens throughout the state spoke up. They were not pleased with CL&P’s plan.

Citing environmental and property rights concerns, the speakers vehemently opposed the CL&P plan (and a similar one proposed by United Illuminating).

Speakers (and those sending written comments) noted there was no commitment to plant lower-growing trees to replace healthy ones that had been cut down. Nor was there any plan to grind tree stumps, or remove potential tripping hazards.

Connecticut’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority took note. On Tuesday, the agency asked CL&P to voluntarily curtail its “Enhanced” program, pending a final ruling.

PURA

“We need a timeout to balance competing needs,” said PURA chairman Arthur H. House.

“One — as established by law — is Connecticut’s demonstrated need for more aggressive tree trimming to secure the reliability of vital utility services. The 2nd need … is to avoid unnecessary eradication of trees and instead proceed with selective trimming.”

CL&P said it would “of course comply” with the request to cut back the tree cutting.

On Thursday, though, the utility told PURA it has 65 local tree crews, with 170 employees, currently trimming trees. CL&P is concerned that a suspension of the program may cause  contractors to leave the state, “adversely impacting the Company’s ability to respond to a major weather event.”

Late Friday, PURA allowed CL&P to continue its tree work.

In related news, this weekend marks the 4th anniversary of a windstorm that knocked out power to thousands of Westporters — some for over a week.

One of the many power lines brought down by trees during the March 2010 windstorm.

One of the many power lines brought down by trees during the March 2010 windstorm.

Food For Thought — Part 2

Alert — and very insightful — “06880” reader Jane Nordli Jessep sends along these thoughts:

As I write this I know many  fellow Westporters are still without power, warmth and light. Even those of us lucky to have only an interruption of electricity experienced a sense of dislocation. It’s unimaginable what others here and throughout our region are dealing with, losing homes and loved ones.

One’s heart is touched by the sense of loss everywhere. And one is inspired by the efforts of members of our community who are in the thick of things helping others. The young woman who organized rooms originally reserved for runners in the NY Marathon for the displaced in New York.

The fellow who is collecting goods for those hit hardest in Staten Island and New Jersey.

The neighbors who reached out a helping hand to neighbors they know only superficially. The people who opened their homes to friends in the dark and cold. The firefighters and police who have been on the job relentlessly. It all makes one feel so grateful.

I also feel a huge sense of gratitude to the town crew and the CL&P workers, including the hundreds from out of state who are here.

Many crews from out of state drove long hours to get here. This one is from New Hampshire.

Anyone who drove around in the aftermath of this storm must have experienced the sense that I did when I saw some of the devastation. It seemed impossible to imagine the clean up could happen in less than 2 weeks, if not more. The tangles and jumbles of trees, wires and downed utility poles on so many streets were truly beyond words.

Yet here I am this bright Sunday after 5 days without power writing this, with a heart full of appreciation and gratitude. I’m not sure who to thank, and I doubt any of those workers will read this message. Yet I know many “thank yous” are in order.

One is reminded that despite some of our foibles as a town, we are at heart a community that can be generous, kind, compassionate and helpful.

NOTE:  Like Jane, many people have asked how to thank everyone who has helped in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. I’m not sure; click “Comments” if you know (or have someone to thank). Of course, a gift card to Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts for utility workers — and anyone else you can think of — can’t hurt.

CL&P Contest

Alert — and none-too-pleased — “06880” reader Bart Shuldman writes:

“Let’s start a CL&P truck-sighting contest.  Since it appears only 1 showed up in Westport yesterday, this might help us all know when more will be addressing the power outage issue we have in Westport.”

Click “Comments” when you see a utility truck. The winner receives a PowerBar.

Have you seen me?

After The Storm

Just when we thought it was over — it wasn’t.

The wind pounded all day yesterday. But the thunder, lightning and heavy rain did not sweep through until after dark.

In its wake, over 2000 customers were without power around midnight.

I’m lucky. Mine went out around 8:30 p.m., and came back around 2:30 a.m.

So — while I’m becoming inured to the fact that power will go over in every big storm — my hat is off to CL&P for getting it back so quickly.

But I know my story is not echoed by everyone in town — particularly the 371 359 customers who still lacked power as of 5 a.m. 6:30 a.m. (Not to mention the Bayberry Lane residents, where an electrical line fire was reportedly still burning this morning.)

What’s your story? Click “comments” to share.

If, that is, you’re able to read this story.