MORRISTOWN, N.J., Oct. 29, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) crews are working to restore service to more than 250,000 customers in northern New Jersey affected by the wet, heavy snow and gusting winds that continue to batter the region. The affected counties include Essex, Hunterdon, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren. FirstEnergy (NYSE :FE ) crews from Ohio also are assisting with the restoration process.
The weight of the snow – combined with the leaves still on many of the tree branches – has resulted in hundreds of tree limbs and branches falling into JCP&L electrical equipment and wires, causing service interruptions. In addition, treacherous driving conditions have made it very difficult for crews to move from one location to another.
"We were prepared for this storm," said JCP&L President Donald M. Lynch. "We brought crews from our sister utilities in Ohio to make sure they were in our area well ahead of the snowstorm. They have been working with the JCP&L crews since this snowstorm began. In addition, our crews from central New Jersey are being deployed to the north as the damage in that area is repaired. The wet, heavy snow has resulted in thousands of locations where we need to assess the damage and make repairs, and the outage numbers could continue to rise throughout the night as snow continues to accumulate."
Lynch says it will be well into the coming week before the majority of customers are restored.
"We are applying many of the lessons learned from Hurricane Irene and also are focused on keeping our customers and state and local officials better informed regarding our service restoration progress," said Lynch. "During daily conference calls, we update local officials on our progress and will continue to share information with them and with our customers throughout the storm."
FirstEnergy is mobilizing additional internal crews and support personnel to assist with possible power outages in New Jersey, and is working to secure outside utility crews, electrical contractors and tree contractors to assist with the restoration process. The snowstorm is causing outages in other FirstEnergy utility service areas. Overall, approximately 2,000 FirstEnergy utility employees and support personnel are assisting during this storm.
For updated information on the company's preparation efforts for the early snowstorm, current outages, FirstEnergy's storm restoration process and tips for staying safe, go to www.firstenergycorp.com. JCP&L will also provide updates via Twitter – follow us @JCP_L.
FirstEnergy customer call centers are fully staffed. To report an outage, JCP&L customers should call 1-888-LIGHTSS (1-888-544-4877), or 1-800-545-7738.
In a large-scale weather event, FirstEnergy urges all customers to follow the advice and recommendations of emergency management officials. The company also offers the following tips if customers experience an outage:
Reporting Downed Wires
- Immediately report downed wires to your electric company or local police or fire department. Never go near a downed power line, even if you think it's no longer carrying electricity.
- Don't try to remove trees or tree limbs from power lines. Wait for utility crews to arrive.
Safety Tips During Outages
- Keep flashlights and fresh batteries in your home. Avoid using candles to light your home, especially around children and pets.
- Never use a gas stove, charcoal grill or lantern intended for outdoor use inside your home.
- Make sure you have fresh batteries in a portable radio so you can stay tuned to your local radio station for updates on our progress to restore power.
- Keep your cell phone battery charged and have an extra charged battery handy. A cell phone will work as long as the nearest cell tower has power or you have battery backup power.
- 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, always disconnect the power coming into your home. Otherwise, power from your generator could be sent back onto the utility lines, creating a hazardous situation for utility workers.
Customers with Wells and Pumps
- Keep an emergency supply of bottled water on hand – and consider filling a bathtub with water.
- If you have a backup generator, be sure you know how to use it safely.
JCP&L serves 1.1 million customers in 13 New Jersey counties.
FirstEnergy is a diversified energy company dedicated to safety, reliability and operational excellence. Its 10 electric distribution companies comprise the nation's largest investor-owned electric system. Its diverse generating fleet features non-emitting nuclear, scrubbed baseload coal, natural gas, and pumped-storage hydro and other renewables, and has a total generating capacity of nearly 23,000 megawatts.
SOURCE FirstEnergy Corp.