AKRON, Ohio, Jan. 6, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- FirstEnergy (NYSE: FE) utilities in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and West Virginia are prepared for the sustained sub-zero temperatures and wind chills impacting the company's service territory this week.
"FirstEnergy crews began focused cold weather inspections and assessments last week to confirm our equipment is in peak condition and minimize potential challenges the extreme weather may pose," said Mark Julian, vice president of FirstEnergy utility operations. "In addition, non-essential work on the transmission system has been postponed to ensure all equipment remains available through the next several days."
FirstEnergy's preparations have included verifying oil and pressure levels in breakers and transformers, ensuring proper operation of heaters on breakers and critical substation equipment, and confirming spare fuses and other replacement parts are on hand. In addition, extra portable heaters have been obtained as back up.
While FirstEnergy fully expects its system to operate as normal throughout the cold spell, crews are ready to respond should the weather impact customers' electric service.
Customers are encouraged to verify their personal preparations to safely weather the extreme cold. Some common-sense tips include:
- For heating purposes, use only equipment that is made for home heating. Never use a gas stove, charcoal grill or lantern intended for outdoor use inside your home as deadly carbon monoxide gas could build up.
- Ensure space heaters have been tested to the latest safety standards and certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory, and always follow the manufacturer's directions for proper use. Place the heater on a level, hard, nonflammable surface and at least three feet away from bedding, drapes, furniture and other flammable materials. Turn space heaters off when you leave the area or go to sleep.
- Use a sturdy fireplace screen when operating a fireplace or wood burning stove.
- Never use a portable generator inside the house or a closed garage in the event of a power outage. Ensure the proper generator is 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.
If an outage occurs as a result of the severe weather, customers should call 1-888-LIGHTSS (1-888-544-4877) to report their outage or click the "Report Outage" link on www.firstenergycorp.com via smartphone. Customers should immediately report downed wires to their utility or their local police or fire department. Customers should never go near a downed power line, even if they think it is no longer carrying electricity.
For updated information on the company's current outages, FirstEnergy's storm restoration process and tips for staying safe, visit the 24/7 Power Center at www.firstenergycorp.com/outages. Customers can subscribe to receive text message alert notifications that contain information about weather conditions that may impact electrical service or updates on reported outages by texting REG to 544487 (LIGHTS). Text messaging may also be used to report outages, request updates on restoration efforts, and make other inquiries about customer electric accounts.
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 Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and New York. Its generation subsidiaries currently control more than 18,000 megawatts of capacity from a diversified mix of scrubbed coal, non-emitting nuclear, natural gas, hydro, pumped-storage hydro and other renewables. Follow FirstEnergy and its operating companies on Twitter: @FirstEnergyCorp, @ToledoEdison, @IlluminatingCo, @OhioEdison, @MonPowerWV, @JCP_L, @Penn_Power, @Penelec, @Met_Ed, @PotomacEdison, @W_Penn_Power.