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    NStar activates Level 5 emergency response for ‘potentially catastrophic’ blizzard

    NStar is warning that tens to hundreds of thousands of customers could lose power during Friday’s “potentially catastrophic” blizzard, and says it has activated its highest emergency response level – level 5 – to deal with the storm.

    “This blizzard has the potential to deliver devastating damage to our electric system and while we are hoping for the best, we are preparing for the worst,” Craig Hallstrom, president of NStar Electric, said in a statement issued just after the lunch hour. “The predicted weather conditions present additional logistical challenges for moving our crews to the trouble spots that will inevitably arise across our system.”

    The utility has been positioning crews around the area since Thursday, and helicopters are on standby to check on transmission lines, if needed, once the winds die down. Extra crews have also begun arriving from as far away as Georgia and Illinois.


    Meanwhile, Unitil says it will open its emergency operation centers at later this afternoon, and has secured more than 140 crews from as far away as Ohio and Michigan to help with downed wires, trees, and outage restoration.

    “Unitil will be restoring power as conditions allow during the overnight hours, with an emphasis on public safety and working with first responders to address wires down issues,” Unitil spokesman Alec O’Meara said in a noon statement.

    Erin Ailworth can be reached at