FirstEnergy Utilities Restore Service to More Than a Third of Customers Affected By Severe Early-Season Snowstorm

Heavy, Wet Snow Accumulations and High Winds Disrupt Service to Approximately 765,000 FirstEnergy Utility Customers

Oct 30, 2011, 14:37 ET from FirstEnergy Corp.

AKRON, Ohio, Oct. 30, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) utilities Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L), Metropolitan Edison (Met-Ed), Mon Power, Penelec, West Penn Power and Potomac Edison are responding to an unusual fall snowstorm that left 765,000 customers in those companies' service areas without power.

More than 275,000 customers have been restored since the storm began yesterday.  The current outage totals by utility are as follows:

  • JCPL: 283,000, down from 356,000 total customers affected
  • Met-Ed: 171,000, down from 257,000
  • Potomac Edison: 34,000, down from 107,000
  • Mon Power: 850, down from 8,700; full restoration is expected today
  • Penelec: 455, down from 14,000; full restoration is expected today
  • West Penn Power: 100, down from 21,000; full restoration is expected today

"We've brought in additional linemen, damage assessors, hazard responders, vehicles and supplies to help speed the restoration process," said Mark Julian, vice president, Utility Operations, FirstEnergy Utilities.  "We are working day and night to repair the damage left by this unique storm event as quickly and safely as possible.  While it is difficult to predict, as the snow melts, tree limbs could spring back into nearby power lines and cause additional power outages."

Due to the widespread damage to electrical facilities, it could be Friday of this week before all customers in the hardest-hit areas such as northern New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania have power restored.  More than a foot of heavy, wet snow fell in some areas of northern New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania.  The heavy snowfall coupled with strong winds has been especially damaging since leaves remain on the trees, breaking limbs and utility poles and blocking roads needed to reach affected areas.  All available crews are working to restore service and will continue around the clock in 16-hour shifts until the process is completed.

FirstEnergy's restoration process is designed to restore power safely and efficiently for affected customers.  Crews are focused on responding to hazardous situations and high-priority damage locations, including the transmission and substation facilities that supply power for local distribution systems.  Priority is also given to hospitals, critical care and life support facilities, communications facilities, emergency response agencies and circuits serving the largest number of customers, followed by restoration of service to individual homes.

Steps taken to restore customers from the severe storm include:

  • Dispatching nearly 3,000 employees and resources from throughout FirstEnergy's 10 utilities to assist in storm restoration activities in the hardest-hit areas.
  • Securing additional outside utility crews and tree contractors.
  • Communicating with customers, emergency management officials, state officials, regulators and the media about the status of restoration efforts.  

For up-to-date information on the company's restoration efforts, current outages, FirstEnergy's storm restoration process and tips for staying safe, go to www.firstenergycorp.com.  

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:

Reporting an Outage

  • If your lights go out, contact your local electric utility to report an outage.  JCP&L, Penelec and Met-Ed customers should call the automated reporting line at 1-888-LIGHTSS (1-888-544-4877).  Potomac Edison, Mon Power and West Penn Power customers should call 1-800-255-3443.
  • 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.  

Customer Generators

  • 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; Met-Ed serves 560,000 customers in 13 Pennsylvania counties; Potomac Edison serves approximately 250,000 customers in seven Maryland counties and 135,000 customers in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia; Mon Power serves 500,000 customers in 47 West Virginia counties; Penelec serves 600,000 customers in 31 Pennsylvania counties; and West Penn Power serves 715,000 customers in 21 Pennsylvania 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.



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