No favoritism in restoring stadium power, utility says

By Derek J. Anderson
Globe Correspondent / August 31, 2011

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As Gillette Stadium gleamed in the darkened Foxborough area, many residents of the town who were still without power yesterday were raising questions and complaints of favoritism.

The utility company National Grid had restored power to the stadium by about 8 p.m. on Monday, which led to some calls from miffed customers, according to National Grid spokeswoman Jackie Barry.

“We’ve had some inquiries about it,’’ said Barry. “Understandably, some people may have been upset that Gillette received power first.’’

Barry insisted, however, that preference played no role in the restoration of power.

“One of the two lines that provide power to Gillette was not badly damaged,’’ she said. “We were able to restore that line. It was pure coincidence that one of the two lines that go to the stadium was not badly damaged.’’

As of 11:30 last night, the National Grid website said 6,566 customers were still without power in Foxborough and 7,820 had it restored.

“The number may not be 100 percent [accurate] since we have crews out there tonight,’’ said Barry. “The number [of customers without power] may be lower.’’

Stacey James, Patriots spokesman, echoed the point that it was not preference that got the stadium’s power back on.

“I think there was a misunderstanding,’’ said James. “I think people were under the thought that we were drawing from the Foxborough substation. We’re not drawing any from the one in Foxborough. The power we’re drawing is from the substation in Wrentham.’’

Neither the New England Patriots nor the Revolution played at the stadium last weekend, when Tropical Storm Irene struck the state, knocking out power to hundreds of thousands of residents.

The stadium was without power for two days, James said. Generators were brought in early Monday to help prepare for football activities, but power was restored later that night, he said.

“After we experienced a power outage at the 1996 AFC championship game at Foxboro Stadium, we expanded the Wrentham substation at our own expense to create a redundancy, with one power feed coming from the Wrentham substation and one coming from the Foxboro substation,’’ James said in an e-mail. “This would guarantee that we would still have power if the feed was lost from one of the substations.’’

The Patriots game against the New York Giants is still on for tomorrow, he said.

Although Gillette and residents located near the stadium have power, other lines in the area have been severely damaged, according to Barry. Crews are continuing to work to restore power to the area, she said.

Foxborough, Attleboro, Bellingham, Plainville, Rehoboth, and parts of Wrentham are all served by main lines, Barry said.

“We are hoping to restore a very significant number of customers in the area by [today] at the latest,’’ she said. “We hope to have a majority restored by Friday. Small pockets of severely damaged areas may take until Sunday.’’

Derek Anderson can be reached at .