Getting you back online as quickly and safely as possible.
The process of restoring your service varies depending on whether you are an electric or natural gas customer. But regardless of which service we’re providing, one thing is the same: Unitil takes a planned approach to restoring your service as quickly and safely as we can.
Restoring Your Electric Service
New England’s severe weather, accidents and other unforeseen events can result in loss of power.
Sometimes there are small, or “blue sky” outages that occur from equipment failures, quick-hitting storms or even animals that cause localized trouble on the electrical system. In these cases, a customer calls or reports a power outage online, we send a crew to investigate, and the issue is resolved within minutes or hours.
Other times, major storms or natural disasters cause widespread damage to the region’s electrical system. No matter the size or scale, our job is to restore your service. And we won’t stop working until we do. Here’s how we do it.
Steps for Electric Restoration
When large storms hit, ensuring public safety is our first priority both during and immediately after the storm’s impact. Please stay clear of downed electrical wires, as they could still be “live”. We need to address them quickly for emergency responders – and eventually the public – to travel safely.
Once public safety is ensured, we begin the process of damage assessment. Information comes to us through our automated systems, customer reports (don’t forget to report your outage!), municipal reports and physical inspections.
We develop a strategy to restore electrical service as quickly as possible, focusing first on critical care facilities, municipal emergency operation centers and large blocks of customers.
This restoration process begins with sub-transmission lines, then distribution service lines, secondary service lines, and finally, any remaining individual homes and businesses. Repairing sub-transmission lines and substation issues first typically results in the largest number of customers being restored together.
As restoration continues and damage becomes more localized, it takes a longer time and greater number of resources to restore the few customers that are still without power. We work at restoring these smaller blocks of customers, and then address the customers with damage to their individual service drops.
At this point in the process, if you are still without service, you may have a separate problem at your home that requires an electrician to repair it. When restoration is complete in an area, Unitil crews will investigate individual customer service issues after the majority of issues have been cleared.
Keeping You in the Know
Restoring Your Natural Gas Service
Natural gas has a proven record of safety — accidents are relatively rare. But sometimes Mother Nature, accidents or other unforeseen circumstances can disrupt gas service without warning.
When that happens, we’re committed to restoring your natural gas service as quickly and as safely as possible. And we do it in a number of ways.
First, we do all we can to prevent service outages by monitoring and continuously improving our infrastructure with state-of-the-art systems and equipment. They help us locate leaks and repair damage before they become emergencies. Most issues are isolated to individual locations and can be resolved with a routine service call.
However, occasionally, more serious issues are discovered which require service interruption and larger scale repairs. During restoration, there are multiple steps that require close cooperation between Unitil and our customers to ensure a safe and efficient return of service. In large-scale interruptions, natural gas supply must be turned off to the affected areas to ensure public safety and allow us to fix the problem before we can turn it back on.
Steps for Gas Restoration
First, we evacuate any residents if necessary. Evacuation typically lasts only a few hours. Our objective is to make the situation safe as soon as possible so residents can return to their homes. Owners of buildings with meters inside will need to contact Unitil to arrange access to the building. If safety is an issue, this process may be expedited with the help of the local fire department.
Next, we isolate the point of the leak and shut off gas service in the affected areas, if necessary, and confirm that all meters are turned off. After we confirm that service has been shut off, we make needed repairs. This most often involves a small street excavation along the damaged gas main, which can be repaired in just a few hours. More extensive damage can require replacement of the main.
Once repairs are made, we begin the process of relighting all affected customers, going from house to house to relight the pilot light in each location. This personal check may occur within a few hours of the interruption, or it may take longer, as each affected customer must be present in order for a relight to occur. If you’re not home, we leave a door tag so you can contact us for a follow-up visit to relight your pilot.
Although they are rare, during large-scale interruptions we provide regular updates of our progress through our toll-free number (1-888-301-7700) and online on our website and social channels.
A safe system is our top priority
Our control and monitoring center offices operate 24/7. We regularly patrol our pipeline, conduct planned inspections, and invest millions each year in replacements and upgrades. We also work to prepare first responders for emergency response.