While our electric system has been designed and maintained to withstand small storms and interruptions, sometimes New England’s severe weather, accidents and other unforeseen events and can result in loss of power to our customers. These can range from small, localized outages to widespread damage to the region’s electrical system. At Unitil, our job is to restore your service quickly and safely.
It’s not always severe weather that causes service interruptions. Sometimes equipment failures or animals can cause trouble on the electrical system, and smaller – “blue sky” -- outages can occur. In these cases, customer calls or online reports alert Unitil to the outage. We send a crew to investigate, and issues are typically resolved within several hours.
When large storms hit, ensuring public safety becomes our first priority both during and immediately after the storm’s impact. Stay clear of downed electrical wires, as they could still be energized and need to be made safe for emergency responders – and eventually the public – to travel safely. Once public safety is ensured, Unitil begins the process of damage assessment, obtained through customer reports, municipal reports and physical inspection. From here, a strategy is developed 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 transmission lines, then substations, followed by main service lines, secondary service lines and finally any remaining individual homes and businesses.
Repairs to the transmission lines and distribution substations typically result in the largest number of customers being restored together. However, as restoration continues, the damage becomes more localized, requiring a greater number of resources and time to restore a fewer number of customers. Smaller blocks of customers are restored next, followed by those customers with damage to their individual service drops. If you are still without service at this point in the process, this may indicate a separate problem at your home requiring an electrician to repair. When restoration is complete in an area, Unitil crews will investigate individual service issues reported by customers after the majority of issues have been cleared.
Throughout an interruption, we provide regular updates of our progress online, to the media and through our toll-free number, 888-301-7700 800-852-3339 (Capital-area NH) and 800-582-7276 (Seacoast NH). Your cooperation and caution during a power outage will ensure a safe and speedy return of electric service.
Watch a short animation on how we restore your electric service.
We ask that customers report all gas emergencies to their local fire department and by calling our toll-free emergency hotline: 866-900-4115.866-542-3547.866-900-4460.
Natural gas has a proven record of safety and accidents are relatively rare. But sometimes Mother Nature,accidents orother unforeseen circumstances can disrupt gas service without warning. There are several steps involved in the restoration process. Unitil is committed to restoring your natural gas service as quickly and as safely as possible. We employ state-of-the-art monitoring equipment and are continuously improving our infrastructure to ensure safety and reliability. Regular surveying of the system helps us to locate leaks and repair damage before they become an emergency situation. In these instances, repairs are made to affected areas without interruption of service to our customers. We respond to every reported gas issue with a trained team of technicians who will assess the problem and determine the best course of action for repair. 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 gas restoration, there are multiple steps that require close cooperation between Unitil and our customers to ensure a safe and efficient repair. 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.
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 a customer is not home, we leave a door tag so the customer can contact us for a follow-up visit to relight their pilot.
Although they are rare, during large-scale interruptions, we provide regular updates of our progress through our toll-free number, 888-301-7700866-933-3820866-933-3821. Keeping our natural gas system safe is our top priority. Our gas control and monitoring center offices operate 24-hours a day, seven days a week. We regularly patrol our pipeline, conduct regular inspections of our system and invest millions of dollars each year in pipeline replacements and upgrades each year. In addition, we work with emergency responders to prepare them with how to respond in case of emergency.
Watch a short animation on how we restore your natural gas service.