Methuen mayor ‘deeply disappointed’ with National Grid’s planned power outage decision

"Winter seems like the most inappropriate time for 'planned' maintenance."

A snowplow makes its way on Washington Street in Methuen.
A snowplow makes its way on Washington Street in Methuen after a past storm. –Jim Davis / Globe Staff, file

The mayor of Methuen is not happy that National Grid executed a “planned” power outage in his city Tuesday night without letting local officials know first.

After Methuen Mayor Neil Perry heard residents were receiving letters about a planned power outage in their neighborhood, which would affect 10 streets for 10 hours, he prepared an emergency shelter and expressed his “displeasure with the timeliness of this ‘planned’ power outage and the lack of communication with City government,” in a public statement. 

In letters to about 300 customers, the National Grid said it would be making improvements to its electrical distribution system and to do so safely, workers would work overnight from 9 p.m. Tuesday to 7 a.m. Wednesday this week.

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“I am deeply disappointed with National Grid’s decision to interrupt power at this time of the year with no advance notice to the City,” Perry wrote. “While I totally appreciate their need to make repairs, my priority is the comfort and safety of the people of our community.”

Perry said the city was never formally notified of the power outage, and that “Winter seems like the most inappropriate time for ‘planned’ maintenance.”

National Grid said in a statement that while they regretted the “temporary inconvenience,” they needed to fix a deteriorating pole at 22 Pelham St. 

“The reason for the urgency is that the pole happens to be a feeder getaway (where the power to the entire feeder originates from the substation),” the statement read. “That means that, if something were to happen to this pole (such as significant wind storm, etc.) without our intervention, the result would have been a much more significant, unplanned outage for the community (which, of course, we wanted to avoid).”

The company said it normally considers customers’ concerns before scheduling planned outages, but this situation needed immediate action. 

“Our practice has been to communicate directly with impacted customers,” they wrote. “However, we’ll be reviewing our practices moving forward and we’ve also offered to meet with the mayor to see how we can do better.”

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