Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) is closely monitoring Tropical Storm Hermine and is making preparations should possible heavy rain, high winds and flooding interrupt service to its northern and central New Jersey customers during the Labor Day weekend.
Some of the aggressive storm preparation steps that are being taken include JCP&L crews setting up specially designed flood barriers and pumps in several key substations as an added precaution should rising water levels cause any issues with the localized electrical system.
JCP&L also has contacted International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Locals 102 and 400 about securing additional hazard responders to assist with storm restoration activities, especially protecting the public from downed wires.
“As we prepare for this storm, we are implementing many of the lessons learned from previous weather events, including using new technology and processes to help accelerate the restoration efforts,” said Tony Hurley, JCP&L vice president of Operations. “We also are working to secure additional linemen and other personnel to assist with outage restoration efforts.”
Based on weather forecasts from company meteorologists about the projected impact of Tropical Storm Hermine, JCP&L can quickly staff additional dispatchers and analysts at its regional dispatch offices, and has put additional line, substation and forestry personnel on notice that they will be needed should severe weather occur. In addition, contractors have been notified they could be required to assist with storm restoration efforts over the Labor Day weekend and beyond.
Other steps JCP&L is taking to prepare for Tropical Storm Hermine include:
- Preparing to activate its Emergency Command Center and Incident Command System
- Communicating with emergency management officials, state officials, regulators and local officials about our storm preparation efforts
- Communicating with customers regarding storm preparation tips and safety
- Beginning preliminary planning for staging areas for outside crews and equipment
- Securing helicopters to provide aerial inspections of power lines
- Working with mutual assistance groups to arrange for outside utility crews to assist in New Jersey.
In the event of severe weather, customers should immediately report downed wires to their utility or their local police or fire department. Customers should never go near a downed power line, even if they think it is no longer carrying electricity. Extra caution should be used in areas where downed lines are tangled in trees or other debris. Motorists are cautioned to treat intersections with inoperable traffic signals as four-way stops.
FirstEnergy customer call centers will be fully staffed. 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 at www.firstenergycorp.com.
FirstEnergy customers also can subscribe to email and text message alert notifications to receive important storm information. 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 online at www.firstenergycorp.com/connect.
Prior to storms impacting New Jersey, the company encourages customers to plan ahead for the possibility of electric service interruptions by following these tips:
Keep flashlights and fresh batteries in your home. Avoid using candles to light your home, especially around children and pets.
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.
Have a hard-wired telephone or a charged cell phone handy in the event you need to report your electricity is out. Mobile phones can be charged in your vehicle using a car charger when the power is out.
Gather extra blankets or a sleeping bag for each person.
Do not use gas stoves, kerosene heaters or other open-flame heat sources indoors. These can cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to build up in your home.
Keep a battery-powered radio with extra batteries on hand. Tune to a local station for current storm information.
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.