More than 4,500 FirstEnergy employees – including 2,300 line, service and forestry crews working around the clock restored service to customers in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland who lost power following Hurricane Irene.
More than 797,000 of the 920,000 Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L), Metropolitan Edison (Met-Ed), Pennsylvania Electric Company (Penelec) and Potomac Edison customers affected by flooding and strong winds have been restored.
As flooding subsides and roads continue to be cleared in Pennsylvania and parts of New Jersey, FirstEnergy utility crews now are able to assess the extent of the damage in previously inaccessible areas. Some rivers in New Jersey continue to crest, hampering assessment and restoration efforts in these areas.
Based on current damage assessments, the following estimated restoration times have been established:
-- JCP&L - Overall, more than 563,000 of the 670,000 affected customers have had power restored. A majority of the remaining 107,000 customers should be restored by the weekend, with full restoration by early next week. -- Met-Ed - More than 185,000 customers have been restored at this time, down from a peak of 200,000. Estimated restoration times for the remaining 15,000 customers: -- York/Lebanon/Boyertown areas - majority by midnight Saturday -- Hamburg/Reading/Easton/Stroudsburg areas - majority by midnight Sunday -- Penelec - More than 35,500 customers have been restored at this time, down from a peak of 37,000. The majority of affected customers should be restored by midnight tonight, with repairs continuing into Thursday for some locations.
Hurricane Irene also affected 19,000 customers in Maryland served by Potomac Edison. All of these customers were restored by Monday, and FirstEnergy crews and other support personnel involved in that restoration effort were deployed to JCP&L areas.
Overall, more than 4,500 FirstEnergy personnel are currently involved in the restoration effort. In addition to the previously mentioned utilities, line workers, damage assessors, hazard responders, call center representatives and forestry crews from the following FirstEnergy companies have been involved in the Hurricane Irene restoration effort: Ohio Edison, Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company, Pennsylvania Power, Toledo Edison, West Penn Power, and Mon Power.
The first priority following a major storm is to quickly and safely clear fallen trees and limbs sufficiently for our crews to repair and re-energize damaged lines. This clearing effort represents a significant portion of our work after a storm. As debris from the storm continues to be cleared, customers are cautioned never to touch downed lines. Customers should always assume downed wires are carrying electricity and are reminded to keep their children and pets away from downed wires. Downed wires should be reported immediately to your electric company or local police or fire department. Customers should never try to remove trees or limbs from power lines because they could conduct electricity; instead, wait for emergency services or utility crews to arrive.
Once the debris has been cleared, company service crews focus on restoring transmission and substation facilities, since they supply power for local distribution systems. Then, priority is given to hospitals, critical care and life-support facilities, communications facilities, and emergency response agencies. After that, crews work to restore power as quickly as possible to individual outage locations.
Occasionally, customers may wonder why a utility crew drives past their homes instead of stopping to restore their power. In the early phases of storm restoration, the primary focus is to find areas with electrical hazards – such as downed (and potentially energized) wires and related electrical equipment – and make them safe. At such times, linemen focus on isolating these hazards.
Once that is accomplished, crews begin to repair lines that supply power to crucial public safety facilities or large areas or groups of customers. A line may be damaged in multiple locations, or at some distance from those who are out of service. The linemen, tree crews, or other workers a customer sees may be on their way to make higher-priority repairs, which must be completed before damages closer to customer’s home can be fixed.
After local power lines are repaired and put back in service, damage to individual customer service wires may become apparent. If a customer receives a call from a FirstEnergy utility when their power is still out, we are trying to determine how to best restore power to your residence and the surrounding area. If your neighbor’s power is on and yours is not, the problem may be isolated to your individual service. Service to the neighbor could be fed from a different circuit. Still, it may be appropriate to report such problems, even if it is later in the restoration process.
To report an outage, JCP&L, Met-Ed and Penelec customers should call 1-888-LIGHTSS (1-888-544-4877) – it’s the fastest way to begin the restoration process.
-- 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, always disconnect the power coming into your home. Otherwise, power from your generator could be sent back onto the utility company lines, creating a hazardous situation for utility workers.
For updated information on hurricane restoration news, current outages, FirstEnergy’s storm restoration process and tips for staying safe after a storm, go to www.firstenergycorp.com.