SOLON, OH (WOIO) - Linemen and support personnel from FirstEnergy Corp. utilities in Ohio, western Pennsylvania and West Virginia are traveling to New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania to help restore power as quickly and safely as possible to company customers affected by Hurricane Irene.
Currently, there are more than 450,000 customers without power as a result of the storm, with more than 100,000 already restored.
Including personnel from Jersey Central Power & Light and Metropolitan Edison -the FirstEnergy utilities most affected by the storm - more than 3,000 company personnel are involved in this service restoration effort, including linemen, dispatchers, hazard responders, damage assessors, mechanics, supervisors and call center representatives.
"Our preparation prior to Hurricane Irene making landfall in our service areas was instrumental in our ability to hit the ground running and begin restoring our customers affected by this powerful storm," said Charles E. Jones, president, FirstEnergy Utilities.
"Our New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania and Maryland crews have been assessing and repairing damage since the hurricane first hit and the linemen, vehicles and supplies from other FirstEnergy utilities will provide reinforcements throughout the restoration process."
Late Saturday night, crews from the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company completed restoration for the more than 55,000 customers who were without power after a storm hit the greater Cleveland area early Thursday morning. FirstEnergy's policy is to ensure there is adequate coverage to handle contingencies in its individual utilities prior to moving personnel and resources between companies.
As part of its overall storm restoration process, FirstEnergy customer call centers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania have been fully staffed, with additional representatives available in Ohio and West Virginia. Overall, more than 650 representatives can take customer calls.
"Storm-related outages can occur well after severe weather passes through the region as weakened trees drop branches or fall," said Jones. "During the restoration process, line crews may also need to de-energize certain facilities in order to safely repair distribution equipment. Widespread damage in the aftermath of a major storm can take hours or days to repair, and we ask for customers to remain patient as we work to restore power.
"Downed wires should be reported immediately to the appropriate FirstEnergy utility or local police or fire department, and people should never go near a downed power line, even if you think it's no longer carrying electricity," adds Jones. "Customers should not try to remove trees or tree limbs from power lines. They should wait for our utility crews to arrive."
If a customer's lights are out, they should contact their local electric utility to report the outage.
For updated information on hurricane restoration news, current outages, FirstEnergy's storm restoration process and tips for staying safe after a storm, go to www.firstenergycorp.com.