Magnitude of Storm Could Result in Lengthy Power Outages; Customers Encouraged to Begin Preparations Now
By: Press Release |
As Hurricane Sandy gathers strength along the East Coast, FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) utilities Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L), Penelec, Met-Ed, West Penn Power, Potomac Edison and Mon Power are mobilizing employees and external resources to help aid the restoration process should the storm impact customers’ electric service early next week.
Torrential rain, high winds and the threat of excessive flooding have the potential to cause significant damage to the electrical system in New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania and Maryland, which could result in power outages lasting up to seven to 10 days. In addition, extended forecasts show the potential for snow and high winds in the company’s Ohio, central Pennsylvania and West Virginia service areas.
“We utilize detailed forecasting models to determine how a severe weather event like Hurricane Sandy most likely will affect our customers, and what steps we can take to possibly minimize their inconvenience in the event of an outage,” said FirstEnergy Meteorologist Brian Kolts. “While it appears that New Jersey has the potential to be the hardest-hit area, this massive weather event has the potential to cause damage across a large portion of FirstEnergy’s service territory.”
To restore power to customers as quickly as possible, more than 700 FirstEnergy linemen, hazard crews, and internal support resources have been secured for storm recovery work throughout the FirstEnergy service territory. In addition, approximately 500-600 electrical contractors already working for FirstEnergy have been secured for storm recovery work. Almost 1,000 tree contractors also are available, as needed, to work during the restoration process. Ultimately, personnel will be dispatched appropriately to the hardest-hit areas.
The company also is working to secure outside utility crews, electrical contractors and tree contractors to assist in the event of large-scale outages. FirstEnergy currently is working with four mutual assistance groups for resources, including Mid-Atlantic Mutual Assistance (MAMA), the New York Mutual Assistance Group (NYMAG), Southeastern Electric Exchange (SEE), and Great Lakes Mutual Assistance (GLMA).
FirstEnergy utilities have implemented the company’s storm response process, including assessing the need for staging sites, notifying employees regarding their storm roles, addressing employee schedule coordination, and developing strategic plans to deploy hazard responders and damage assessors.
Company representatives also are communicating with emergency management officials, state officials, regulators and the media about storm preparation efforts. Additional governmental affairs and communications representatives will be deployed to the hardest-hit areas, as needed.
FirstEnergy customer call centers will be fully staffed. Customers who are without power are encouraged to call 1-888-LIGHTSS (1-888-544-4877) to report their outage or click the “Report Outage” link on www.firstenergycorp.com via smartphone.
In the event of severe weather, customers should immediately report downed wires to their electric company or local police or fire department. Customers should never go near a downed power line, even if they think it’s no longer carrying electricity.
Emergency power generators offer an option for customers needing or wanting uninterrupted service. However, to ensure the safety of the home’s occupants as well as that of utility company employees who may be working on power lines in the area, the proper generator should be selected and installed by a qualified electrician. When operating a generator, the power coming into the home should always be disconnected. Otherwise, power from the generator could be sent back onto the utility lines, creating a hazardous situation for utility workers.
For updated information on the company’s storm preparation efforts, current outages, FirstEnergy’s storm restoration process and tips for staying safe, customers are urged to visit the 24/7 Power Center at www.firstenergycorp.com/outages. The operating companies will also provide updates via Twitter:
Potomac Edison: @PotomacEdison
West Penn Power: @W_Penn_Power
Mon Power: @MonPowerWV
JCP&L customers also can receive updated information by following the company on Facebook at www.facebook.com/JCPandL.
FirstEnergy is a diversified energy company dedicated to safety, reliability and operational excellence. Its 10 electric distribution companies form one of the nation’s largest investor-owned electric systems, serving customers in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and West Virginia. Its generation subsidiaries control more than 20,000 megawatts of capacity from a diversified mix of scrubbed coal, non-emitting nuclear, natural gas, hydro, pumped-storage hydro and other renewables. Follow FirstEnergy on Twitter @FirstEnergyCorp.