WEATHER: National Grid: Power won’t be restored to all of RI until mid-week

By Kim Kalunian, WPRO News

David Graves, spokesman for National Grid, told WPRO's Ron St. Pierre that the East Bay and Aquidneck Island were hit hardest by power outages during the blizzard called "Nemo."

Graves said 100 percent of customers in Newport, Middletown, Barrington and Bristol were without power as of Saturday afternoon, and about 90 percent of Warren customers and 78 percent of customers in East Providence were also affected.

Graves said two transmission lines to Aquidneck Island the East Bay were largely responsible for the outages. Transmission lines bring electricity from the point of generation to the distribution system. Graves said it's not one-step-fix, but repairing transmission lines and energizing the system on the Island and in the East Bay could bring a large block of customersback up to power. Additionally, Graves said there could be issues within the distribution systems and individuals problems, too.

The outages caused by Nemo were comparable to those cause by Sandy, said Graves, with Irene bringing the most widespread outages of recent storms.

The issue with Nemo, however, was that wintry conditions prevented crews from heading out to make repairs until early Saturday morning.

With roughly 170,000 customers still without power, Graves anticiaptes it will take days to restore everyone's electricity.

"It could be mid-next week before all customers are restored," he said.

St. Pierre asked Graves if underground systems would be more effective in preventing outages, but he said that's not the case.

"Underground systems don't eliminate outages," said Graves, noting that underground wires are more expensive to repair when damaged.

Graves said an evaulation was done to determine how much it would cost to put New Hampshire's electrical system undergound. The answer? $40 billion, which would be absored by the rate payers. Plus, said Graves, it would take an estimated 40 years to complete.

For detailed forecasts and up-to-the-minute closings and information, visit our Operation Snowball page.