FirstEnergy Electric Companies Preparing for Weekend Winds
Crews standing by and readying for strong winds and potential thunderstorms
AKRON, Ohio – FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) electric company personnel are preparing to respond to service interruptions caused by another spring severe weather system that is expected to bring strong wind gusts and potential thunderstorms this weekend to Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia and Maryland.
The system is expected to bring wind gusts of 40 to 50 miles per hour – and potentially higher in some areas – starting on Friday and extending into Saturday evening, with an additional risk of scattered thunderstorms on Saturday. The high winds could slow restoration efforts, as crews cannot safely operate bucket trucks when wind speeds exceed 40 miles per hour.
The new weather system follows heavy rain and wind last weekend that caused a significant number of outages in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. While this weekend’s weather may not be as severe, it is expected to have an impact on customers across all the states served by FirstEnergy.
In anticipation of this new weather system, FirstEnergy has kept more than 200 contractors and outside support personnel in place from last weekend’s restoration effort. FirstEnergy crews are also pre-staging at service centers across its territory to be ready to respond once the storm hits.
“With another round of strong wind gusts that could bring trees and branches down on our lines and equipment, we have crews standing by to address potential damage,” said Sam Belcher, senior vice president of FirstEnergy and president of FirstEnergy Utilities. “While these severe weather events are not unusual for this time of year, we understand that outages are difficult for our customers and will work to restore service as quickly and safely as possible.”
FirstEnergy’s electric companies are implementing storm response plans, which include staffing additional operators, damage assessors and analysts at distribution control centers, and arranging to bring in additional line, substation and forestry personnel, as needed, based on the severity of the weather. FirstEnergy representatives have also been in contact with emergency management officials, state officials, regulators and local officials about the company’s storm preparation efforts.
How to Report Power Outages and Downed Lines
Customers who experience a service interruption due to the storm are encouraged to report their outage by texting OUT to LIGHTS (544487), clicking the "Report Outage" link on www.firstenergycorp.com or calling 1-888-LIGHTSS (1-888-544-4877).
FirstEnergy customers can sign up to receive email and text message alert notifications for updates after they’ve reported a power outage. 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 communication tools is available at www.firstenergycorp.com/connect.
Customers should assume all downed or low-hanging power lines are energized and dangerous. Stay at least 30 feet away and use extra caution where downed lines are tangled in trees or other debris. Report downed lines ASAP by calling 911.
For updated information on the company's current outages, the company’s storm restoration process and tips for staying safe, visit FirstEnergy’s 24/7 Power Center at www.firstenergycorp.com/outages.
Customers Encouraged to Prepare and Stay Safe
FirstEnergy encourages customers to plan for the possibility of power outages due to the impending storm by following these tips:
• Keep electronic devices such as cell phones, laptops and tablets fully charged.
• Have a car charger on-hand to charge mobile devices if your power is out. If you have a smart phone, this will ensure you have access to online information sources.
• Keep a flashlight, portable radio and extra batteries handy in the event of a power outage. Tune to a local station for current storm information.
• Use care when burning candles; open flames are a dangerous fire hazard.
• 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.
• Consider having a hard-wired phone available to report an outage or emergency. A plain, hard-wired phone can operate on power delivered through the phone line.
Operate Backup Generators Safely
Emergency power generators offer an option for customers needing or wanting uninterrupted service. To ensure the safety of the home's occupants as well as that of electric 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 power lines, creating a hazardous situation for company workers. Locate the generator outside of your home and far away from windows, doors and vents. Never locate a generator inside your home.
FirstEnergy is dedicated to integrity, safety, reliability and operational excellence. Its 10 electric distribution companies form one of the nation's largest investor-owned electric systems, serving customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and New York. The company’s transmission subsidiaries operate approximately 24,000 miles of transmission lines that connect the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. Visit FirstEnergy online at www.firstenergycorp.com and follow FirstEnergy and its operating companies on Twitter: @FirstEnergyCorp, @ToledoEdison, @IlluminatingCo, @OhioEdison, @MonPowerWV, @JCP_L, @Penn_Power, @Penelec, @Met_Ed, @PotomacEdison, @W_Penn_Power.