Sandy: 5 years later – Upgrading the electrical system

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NORTH MASSAPEQUA -

Superstorm Sandy left Long Island's streets littered with utility poles and damaged electrical wires, causing power outages for more than 1 million customers for about two weeks. 

A state panel blasted LIPA after Sandy for using outdated methods like tracking outages with pencils and paper. PSEG Long Island took over in 2014. John O'Connell, vice president of transmission and distribution for PSEG Long Island, says the energy company got an influx of federal money, $730 million, to improve the electric system after Sandy.

O'Connell says every part of the system was inspected for vulnerability. He says each of the 12 PSEG LI substations that saw water damage is being refurbished and all the equipment inside them has been replaced. O'Connell also says 25,000 distribution poles are being installed. They are taller, wider and set deeper in the ground. 

"We're placing new wire with increased insulation and stronger hardware on the tops of the poles so they can really withstand the force and the wind that a hurricane would bring," O'Connell told News 12 Long Island. 

The PSEG Command Center has also been outfitted with new technology and an outage management system , which allows employees to update the status of jobs and restoration times. O'Connell says their social media team is staffed 24/7 during a storm. 

"We place communication right on par with restoration," he says. 

Neal Lewis, with the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College, called the utility "much stronger" than it was before Sandy. 

"Much more resilient, much less likely to have major outages during a storm. And we're already seeing evidence of that with the minor storms," says Lewis.

Go HERE for an extended interview with O'Connell.

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