Electrical Safety and Reliability Overview

In 2002, the Public Utilities Commission transferred the responsibility for electric safety to what is now the Department of Energy Division of Enforcement. Whenever there is electrical contact in which a person has received a shock, flash injury or other injury that resulted from contact with the utility’s facilities, an investigation and report is completed.

The most recent investigation was for a contact made during 2020 in Lebanon. A Safety Report was filed with the Public Utilities Commission. OSHA also issued violations for the same contact.

In 2015 the Safety Division investigated a fatality associated with a logging incident within a high voltage power line ROW in Benton. A final report was issued May 12, 2017.

Other contacts investigated include an expanded investigation of a 2014 contact, see DE 15-417, and a follow-up report was filed on December 9, 2016. The electric provider was subsequently fined by the Public Utilities Commission.

Since 2002, electrical safety responsibilities have expanded beyond electrical incident investigations to include:

  • Random field inspection of electrical distribution infrastructure
  • Assisting in resolving consumer electrical complaints requiring field investigations
  • Assisting Regulatory Division with technical issues as needed
  • Reviewing Public Water and Land Crossings for potential safety issues
  • Participating in dockets that involve significant capital expenditures of the electrical system
  • Reviewing Emergency Response Plans of Electric Service Providers
  • Analyzing Effectiveness of Utilities Responses to Wide Scale Storms
  • Reviewing Periodic Utility Reports including:
    • Customer filed complaints that involve field investigation
    • Voltage Complaints
    • Electric Meter Testing Reports
    • Equipment Theft, Sabotage and Breeches of Security
    • Customer service interruptions greater than 5 minutes
    • Reliability Indices
    • Customer Outages greater than 2,000 customers
    • Crew Reports during Wide Scale Emergencies

The Department of Energy Division of Enforcement is also the lead in coordinating service restoration efforts with the electric utilities during major power outages.

Wide Scale Storm Response

2008 Ice Storm

  • Dec 11-24, 2008
  • 434,828 customers affected state wide
  • 63% of customer base
  • 312 Hours duration

February 2010 Windstorm

  • Feb 25- Mar 4, 2010
  • 384,082 customers affected state wide
  • 57% of customer base
  • 144 Hours duration

Oct Nor’easter Snow Storm

  • Oct 29-Nov 4, 2011
  • 323,949 customers affected state wide
  • 47% of customer base
  • 159 Hours duration

Severe Rain & Wind Event

  • Oct 29-Nov 4, 2017
  • 317,125 customers affected state wide
  • 44% of customer base
  • 196 Hours duration

Thanksgiving Snowstorm

  • Nov 26-Dec 1, 2014
  • 274,142 customers affected state wide
  • 39% of customer base
  • 114 Hours duration

Hurricane Sandy

  • Oct 26-31, 2012
  • 200,707 customers affected state wide
  • 29% of customer base
  • 108 Hours duration

Tropical Storm Irene

  • Aug 28- Sept 1, 2011
  • 187,905 customers affected state wide
  • 27% of customer base
  • 79 Hours duration

See summary Chart of Historical Storms as well as breakdown by Utility and examine the expenditures for restoration.

The Public Utilities Commission and what is now the Division of Enforcement conducted extensive after-action reviews following three of the largest recent storms: the December 2008 Ice Storm, the October 2011 Snowstorm, and the Nov 2014 Thanksgiving Storm to assess utility preparedness and emergency response capabilities in New Hampshire.  The reports are shown below:

A number of directives were given to utilities to implement improvements in their emergency planning and response procedures. The Division of Enforcement identified areas of improved and poor performance as compared to the prior significant storm events that had required corrective actions.  Reports typically recount and evaluate pre-storm planning and preparedness as well as the power restoration response taken by the State’s four electric distribution utilities. 

In addition, the Division of Enforcement reviews each utility’s after action self-assessment report that is submitted after each wide scale storm.