NEW JERSEY – Jersey Central Power and Light (JCP&L), a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., recently completed its annual storm restoration exercise as part of preparations for hurricane season and potential severe storms that commonly occur during the summer months.
The emergency readiness training, which typically takes place at JCP&L’s Holmdel office, was held virtually for the first time, in line with current COVID-19 safety protocols for social distancing and indoor gatherings, and included a focus on restoring power in a severe weather event during a pandemic. JCP&L employees from the Operations, Engineering, Safety, Logistics, Communications, External Affairs, Customer Support, Facilities, Corporate Support and Planning and Analysis groups participated in the drill, which was observed by representatives of New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities (BPU).
“There is no such thing as being overprepared for the storm season,” said Alex Patton, JCP&L vice president of Operations. “Regular exercises such as these ensure everyone is confident in their roles, emphasize the importance of safety, and allow us to test improvements we have made in a real-world scenario. They are another way that we invest in reliability for our customers.”
Among the items exercised were new actions incorporated following Tropical Storm Isaias last summer that will help enrich service for JCP&L customers, including:
- Enhancements to the estimated times of restoration processes to improve initial accuracy.
- Comprehensive improvements in communications with customers, as well as local officials.
- Upgraded systems in the event of facility outages to increase reliability and allow for faster response times.
As part of the collaboration with local governments, JCP&L officials have met with representatives of the offices of emergency management in the counties that make up the company’s 1.1-milllion customer service area.
This week’s drill utilized the federal Incident Command System (ICS). ICS is a nationally recognized and accepted emergency management structure used by all levels of government – federal, state, tribal and local – as well as by many non-governmental and private sector organizations, such as JCP&L, to improve coordination and collaboration during major storms or other natural disasters.
“Our teams are always at the ready and follow a prescribed process when storms are in the forecast,” said Jim Fakult, president of JCP&L. “Preparation is important for us, and as hurricane season begins, our customers should start to make sure their families are prepared as well.”
Hurricane season officially begins June 1, and family storm plans should include extra batteries and flashlights, blankets and sleeping bags, emergency supplies of bottled water and convenient, non-perishable foods. These tips and more can be found at www.firstenergycorp.com/storm_info.
JCP&L serves 1.1 million customers in the counties of Burlington, Essex, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren.