AKRON, Ohio, June 30, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) utilities Mon Power, Potomac Edison, West Penn Power and Ohio Edison are responding to a severe summer storm that caused more than 560,00 customers in those companies' service areas to lose power.
Large numbers of fallen trees and other debris – the result of winds gusting over 65 mph in some areas – are complicating restoration efforts. In the hardest-hit areas of West Virginia, the storm damaged more than 50 transmission lines and 70 substations. The damage assessment process is ongoing, with helicopters being used to patrol downed transmission lines. While the company's storm restoration process is working to restore power to customers as soon as possible, preliminary estimated restoration times indicate that it could be a week before the hardest-hit areas – particularly parts of West Virginia – are fully restored.
All available FirstEnergy crews are working to restore service and will continue around the clock in 16-hour shifts until the process is completed. In addition, the company is mobilizing crews and support personnel from its utilities in Ohio and Pennsylvania to assist in the hardest hit areas and is securing electrical contractors and tree contractors to assist with the restoration process. FirstEnergy also is working to secure additional utility crews from various mutual assistance organizations.
Current outage totals by utility are as follows:
- Mon Power: 254,000
- Potomac Edison: 111,000
- West Penn Power: 30,000
- Ohio Edison: 20,000
"We are bringing in additional linemen, damage assessors, hazard responders, vehicles and supplies to help speed the restoration process," said Steven E. Strah, vice president, Distribution Support, FirstEnergy Utilities. "We are working day and night to repair the damage left by this storm event as quickly and safely as possible."
FirstEnergy crews and contractors will utilize the company's restoration process, which is designed to restore power safely and efficiently for affected customers:
- First, crews focus on securing hazardous situations such as downed wires to protect public safety.
- Priority also is given to hospitals, communications facilities, emergency response agencies and the transmission and substation facilities that supply power for local distribution systems.
- Repairs are then made to circuits serving the largest number of customers, followed by restoration of service to individual homes.
For up-to-date information on the company's restoration effort, current outages, FirstEnergy's storm restoration process and tips for staying safe, go to www.firstenergycorp.com
During significant service interruptions, outage information is also available via the company's Twitter accounts.
Maryland & West Virginia
A list of all accounts is available here: www.firstenergycorp.com/newsroom/social_media.
In addition, customers can view timely, accurate and easy-to-use outage information through FirstEnergy's "24/7 Power Center" maps, accessible on desktops, smart phones and mobile devices at www.firstenergycorp.com/outages.
Reporting an Outage
- If your lights go out, contact your local electric utility by calling the automated outage reporting line at 1-888-LIGHTSS (1-888-544-4877).
- 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.
Customers may notice hazard responders in areas with downed wires. Their job is to stay on the scene and prevent the public from contacting fallen, energized lines until line crews can make repairs. In addition, temporary repairs may be performed to make an area safe and restore as many customers on a circuit as possible. If crews leave an area to make temporary repairs elsewhere, they will return as soon as possible to complete the remaining work.
During large-scale weather events, FirstEnergy urges all customers to follow the advice and recommendations of emergency management officials. The company also offers the following tips for customers experiencing an outage:
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.
- 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.
Mon Power serves 500,000 customers in 47 West Virginia counties; Potomac Edison serves approximately 250,000 customers in seven Maryland counties and 135,000 customers in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia; West Penn Power serves 715,000 customers in 21 Pennsylvania counties; and Ohio Edison serves more 1 million customers in Ohio.
FirstEnergy is a diversified energy company dedicated to safety, reliability and operational excellence. Its 10 electric distribution companies comprise one of the nation's largest investor-owned electric systems. 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.