Eversource: No service issues expected

MILFORD – Three representatives of Eversource tried to reassure selectmen recently that there will be no diminishment of electric service after the company closes its Milford office.

Company spokesmen say the closing of the Elm Street station is part of changes that will improve service.

"You shouldn’t see any change," said Marc Geaumont, Eversource director of field operations, who talked about the company’s troubleshooting operation that started 14 months ago, with trucks constantly on the road 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

The trucks are immediately dispatched to the scene of a problem, he said, which means after-hours response has increased.

Geaumont also said the company has made a huge investment in infrastructure, with a modern

systems-monitoring facility in Manchester.

But selectmen said they’re concerned about service to Milford and surrounding towns.

"How do you keep the lights on" with no substation between Nashua and Keene, Chairman Mark Fougere asked at the board’s May 9 meeting.

There is a lot of concern in Milford,and the company has a "big uphill public relations battle," Selectman Kevin Federico said.

Public Service of New Hampshire, now Eversource, had a close relationship with the Milford Fire Department and worked hand-in-hand, with some of the same PSNH employees volunteering as firefighters, he said.

"When there’s a tough winter and people drive by Dunkin’ Donuts and don’t see 30 trucks on Elm Street, they are going to wonder," Federico said.

Mark Sandler, a manager of regional operations, said the average response time in New Hampshire is now 100 minutes, and "world class" is 95 minutes.

The meeting was held on the evening of the day a big fire on Route 101A destroyed two businesses. Sandler said Eversource trucks arrived before firefighters.

Selectmen learned last month that the Elm Street station was closing.

Board members were also concerned about power to critical buildings during storms, and the Eversource managers said there will be no change. They also said work crews stationed here won’t lose their jobs.

Laurel Boivin, Eversource community relations manager, said there is a list for every community of critical facilities such as wastewater treatment plants and schools, with Eversource’s emergency preparedness staff constantly working with municipal officials to make sure they have the most accurate information. During storms, they have community relations liaisons working in constant communication with municipal officials, she said.

What formerly was known as the PSNH station has been on Elm Street since 1971. Before that, the station was on Souhegan Street, where it started as Milford Power and Light in 1913 and generated electricity from the river, according to longtime resident Margaret McGettigan, whose husband, Ken, worked for PSNH for 47 years. PSNH bought it in 1931.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.