NEW JERSEY – FirstEnergy utility personnel are prepared to respond to service interruptions caused by a powerful nor’easter that could dump up to two feet of snow in some areas of Pennsylvania and northern New Jersey on Wednesday and Thursday, with heavy rain and strong winds expected to lash the Jersey shore.
Company meteorologists are tracking the winter storm, which is forecast to move into the region Wednesday morning with widespread snowfall for Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and West Virginia ranging from several inches to two feet. Rain, sleet and wind gusts of up to 55 miles per hour are expected for coastal areas of Jersey Central Power & Light.
All of FirstEnergy’s electric utilities in the impacted region are implementing storm response plans, which include staffing additional dispatchers, damage assessors and analysts at regional dispatch offices, and arranging to bring in additional line, substation and forestry personnel, as needed, based on the severity of the weather. The company has also notified contractors who work throughout FirstEnergy’s footprint building power lines and installing new equipment to enhance service reliability for customers to be on deck to assist with restoration efforts.
Additionally, line workers and support staff from FirstEnergy’s Ohio utilities are on the road and traveling east to respond to outages in areas impacted by the winter storm, including JCP&L.
“We are monitoring the weather conditions closely and will deploy resources to the areas that could get hit the hardest,” said Sam Belcher, senior vice president of FirstEnergy and president of FirstEnergy Utilities. “The goal of our planning efforts is to restore electric service as quickly as safety allows and to minimize inconvenience our customers experience due to the storm.”
Company representatives also have been in contact with emergency management officials, state officials, regulators and local officials about the storm preparation efforts.
During severe weather, customers who are without power are encouraged to call 1-888-LIGHTSS (1-888-544-4877) to report their outage or click the “Report Outage” link on www.firstenergycorp.com.
Customers are also encouraged to follow three simple steps to avoid dangerous accidental contact with electrical equipment if storms bring down wires:
- STOP what you’re doing and stay away from electrical equipment.
- LOOK for hazards and call 911 to immediately report downed wires.
- LIVE and prevent serious injury by taking safety precautions, including never going near a downed power line, even if you think it is no longer carrying electricity. Extra caution should be exercised in areas where downed wires may be tangled in downed tree branches or other debris.
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 firstenergycorp.com/outages.
FirstEnergy encourages customers to plan ahead for the possibility of electric service interruptions from winter weather by following these tips:
- Keep electronic devices such as cell phones, laptops and tablet computers fully charged to be ready for any emergencies.
- Keep a flashlight, portable radio and extra batteries handy in the event a power interruption occurs. Tune to a local station for current storm information.
- 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.
- Gather extra blankets or a sleeping bag for each person. Do not use gas stoves, kerosene heaters or other open-flame heat sources to prevent deadly carbon monoxide gas from building up in your home.
- If you have a water well and pump, keep an emergency supply of bottled water and/or fill your bathtub with fresh water.
- Stock an emergency supply of convenience foods that do not require cooking.
- Mobile phones can be charged in your vehicle using a car charger when the power is out. If you have a smart phone, this will ensure you have access to online information sources.
- 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, 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.
FirstEnergy customers also can subscribe to email and text message alert notifications for updates on scheduled or extended power outages. Customers can also use two-way text messaging to report outages, request updates on restoration efforts, and make other inquiries about their electric accounts. More information about these communications tools is available online at www.firstenergycorp.com/connect.