NGG Impresses Me

I’m in Boston, Massachusetts, for a couple of days. Last night there was a rainstorm that brought high winds, causing some power outages throughout the eastern Massachusetts region.

The television news report showed a graphic that gave the number of customers without power (I assume that this is the number of  subscribers, not the actual number of people affected). The graphic said:

NStar: 10,000

National Grid: 4,357

Nstar, according to their website, is the largest Massachusetts-based utility. National Grid is a UK-based utility with operations in North America.

Perhaps Nstar actually had exactly 10,000 customers without power, but more likely, their figure was an estimate or just a rounded value.

What can we conclude from this? Here are some possibilities, listed in order of what I reckon are most-likely to least-likely:

1) Perhaps Nstar, the largest Massachusetts-based utility, cannot determine the current number of customers without power to within the nearest thousand, whereas National Grid knows to the exact number. Victory: National Grid.

2) Perhaps both Nstar and National Grid know the current number of customers experiencing trouble with service, but Nstar willingly hides their figures while National Grid reports them honestly. Victory: National Grid.

3) Perhaps neither of them know the number of their customers who are without power, but National Grid is willing to just lie and pick a number at random to make it look like they know the number exactly. Victory: Nstar.

So, I can’t rule out the possibility that National Grid just lied, for no apparent reason, about the number of customers without power. But, if I were a gambling person, I’d wager that there’s a computer somewhere (or internal website) that tells National Grid how many customers are without power, while Nstar does not collect all this information into one place, so they just have to take a wild guess whenever emergencies happen.

If that’s right, then NGG impresses me. What they should do next is make information like that available on a public website, so that people can see which areas are without power, when trucks are scheduled to address specific areas, and so forth.


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