PSE&G posted a press release to their site on Tuesday, explaining the actions they took on Sunday as the Hackensack River rose to nearly 12 feet and submerged the switching station in New Milford on Henley Avenue.
Here is the release in its entirety:
PSE&G’s 20 acre New Milford Switching Station is not without its challenges. The site is located near the Hackensack River in the town of New Milford and is subject to flooding when the river overflows its banks.
During Hurricane Irene the Hackensack River crested at more than 11 feet, the second-highest recorded level and nearly six feet above flood stage. In some areas of the property, the water was more than three feet deep, causing much of the high voltage equipment in the station to become submerged.
In order to be prepared for such an event, engineers at PSE&G’s Palisades Division developed a contingency plan to ensure continuity of electric service for the 40,000 customers who are supplied from that station. The plan includes switching the affected distribution circuits to alternate substations and installing mobile transformers in local streets and parking lots in order to keep the lights on.
As the river began to surge and spill onto the station property, the team proactively shut off the power to the station in order to prevent the equipment from failing. “Our contingency plan minimized equipment damage and allowed us to restore service to the affected customers more expeditiously,” said Hal Izzo, Distribution Manager – Electric Maintenance at Palisades Division. “We worked closely with the municipalities to coordinate our efforts to maintain safe and reliable electric service for our customers.”
As the Hackensack River began to recede, clean up of the switching station and all of its equipment had already started. Crews began the long and tedious process of inspecting, repairing, maintaining and drying out all of the equipment. Once that is completed, the equipment must be tested before returning it to service. “Cleaning up a site after a controlled shut down is a better alternative than risking equipment failure by leaving it energized and hoping that it does not catch fire or explode when affected by the water,” said Izzo.