Northeast Snowstorm: A Bad Day for the Buy Side

By Carl Ford October 31, 2011

I am with my wife at a house in New Jersey, and while I wish I were home in Florida, perhaps I am here for a reason. We have no power, and our chimney was a victim of Hurricane Irene, so I cannot start a fire or make a phone call on my cable operator’s system.

We were one of the first areas to get hit by the Northeast snowstorm this weekend, but it does not make much difference when all of the malls in the area are shut down. The funny thing is, I cannot give you any rhyme or reason as to the why my neighbor three blocks down still has power when so much of the city is out. 

The utilities outage map looks like a public map of a battle. Vague stars showing points on the map and estimates of outages within the town. No forecast or analysis. I am not sure the point of the map is being accomplished if you are looking to keep the public informed; it’s just not working. If it’s to say, “Don’t call us, we’re kind of busy,” I think a letter would do.

When our power first went out, I was questioning how the distribution system worked. Clearly this is different than the layout we had in the phone company.The thought of having an electric car and solar panels in the home now represent a strong strategy to me. 

Wanting some self control in these situations, I see the electric car as being the only option. Solar is nice, but it is oriented to a head systems. Speaking of which, I am not sure how many panels were damaged by the storm, but I have a note into PSE&G.

Here are some of the things I am looking for.

·         A vehicle that connects to the home and offers a back-up in the house;

·         A solar panel strategy that feeds the car first and power company second. (I recognize that, normally, I would be told that it’s not necessary. In this model, however, if the power grid disappears, I can still recharge my car.);

·         A calculation on what systems are essential in emergencies.

·         Sitting in my friend’s house with power strips for medical machines and, of course, my computers, I see the term essential as being pretty extensive.

I am going to price out the complete picture in follow-up articles. If anyone wants to help me write the RFI, e-mail me.

Carl Ford is a partner at Crossfire Media.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

Partner, Crossfire Media

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