NYSEG to adjust to meet power demands in Long Lake

LONG LAKE — After town leaders here spoke with the town’s electric supplier about a streak of power outages that left Long Lake and surrounding towns in the dark several times in recent months, the power company has acknowledged the problem and promised to improve its service.

Town Supervisor Clark Seaman said that in meetings with New York State Electric and Gas, company representatives have proposed adding personnel, improving its technology and installing backup generators in Long Lake, Blue Mountain Lake and Newcomb.

Throughout November, during some of the coldest nights of the winter so far, Long Lake, Newcomb, Blue Mountain Lake and Raquette Lake lost power for as long as seven hours.

More than 40 of Long Lake’s 500 or so residents showed up to a town board meeting to talk about the outages and come up with a plan to get the attention of NYSEG, which they felt was not aware of what it takes to maintain power when there is just one 68-mile line of electric connection.

Power outages are not uncommon in Long Lake, which gets its feed from National Grid through a line from Old Forge. Residents have been calling and writing letters to NYSEG, state agencies and politicians for months, and Seaman said he has personally been calling NYSEG for a year-and-a-half about the outages.

November brought six outages, including one on Black Friday and others during nights that brought temperatures 14 degrees below zero. The towns affected sent a flurry of complaints to NYSEG. Long Lakers created a mass mailing campaign to NYSEG, and Seaman talked with state Sen. Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville, who wrote a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo asking for an investigation into the matter with NYSEG and Frontier.

Seaman had told the Enterprise that service from the Connecticut-based NYSEG grew poor when it was bought by Iberdrola USA, a company from Spain, in 2015. Iberdrola had combined several existing gas and electric companies to form Avangrid Inc. He and other town board members said an electrical fix used to be a phone call away, but corporate red tape made every remedy a long one.

Seaman said that in December several representatives from NYSEG came to Long Lake to investigate what was wrong and talk with town leaders.

“It was a productive meeting,” Seaman said. “They were very committed to fixing it, making it right.”

Though none of these proposals are definitive, Seaman said the company has offered to place more employees in Long Lake, improve the telemetric communication which turn on the generators and install generators in each community.

Neighboring Newcomb already has a generator. Back in 2015, the old generator, which had been there since the 1960s, was not sufficient; a new one was installed and has had trouble since it was started, according to Seaman. Both generators run at the same time, and Seaman said it took a few years and two contractors to get them to run in phase. Now, he said the generator tends to trip out when it senses a power surge.

He said the new generator would likely be added on the southeast side of Newcomb, heading toward Minerva.

Seaman said he does not know if the generators would be permanent or a temporary solution as the company resolves other issues, such as trimming trees on the rights of way. He expects they will be installed in the next month.

Seaman said the NYSEG representatives told him the generators are switched on by low band radio, which can be unreliable in poor weather conditions. He said the company started the process of upgrading the radio technology several months ago by replacing the 35-foot poles with 40-foot ones.

Seaman said NYSEG is also negotiating with SLIC Network Solutions and the Development Authority of the North Country to get a fiber optic connection, which would help connect the generator switch.

Seaman said it will take time to do all the engineering, get all the permits and make all the changes but he is glad it is happening. He said he hopes the permit process is quick.

“I don’t know where that (Adirondack Park Agency) permit is at. To me, that’s a little bothersome,” Seaman said. “We’re talking about health and human safety, and you’ve got to wait months for an APA permit.”

Long Lake had another outage on New Year’s Day, but it only affected around 90 residents in a certain part of town for a couple of hours.

Seaman said he is now confident in NYSEG’s ability to deliver reliable service and will meet again with the company later in the month.