FLEMINGTON, NJ – Jersey Central Power & Light is reporting online this morning that it expects all of its 10,000 Hunterdon customers that are still without power after Friday’s storm to have it restored by 11:30 p.m. tomorrow, Wednesday.
“We certainly hope that will be the case,” said JCP&L spokesperson Chris Eck, “but sometimes when we get into the field we discover more damage.”
The utility admits it still has a lot of work ahead of it.
JCP&L has already repaired the easy outages, Eck said, where “a switch can be flipped and 2,000 people get their power back.
“We’re done with those now and we’re working on smaller and smaller outages which is just more labor intensive,” he said. “Utilities across New England are facing the same problem.”
JCP&L is facing what Eck called a “web of complexity.”
The forecast for another winter storm that could begin tonight and last through tomorrow could bring as much as a foot of snow to Hunterdon, according to the National Weather Service.
Heavy snow can bring down branches and wires and weaken trees that haven’t come down yet, Eck said, bringing a chance of additional power outages.
Repairs to its system require JCP&L workers to trace circuits from a “substation to the last residence,” Eck said. “And there will be places where there could be 100 breaks in that line ... Each of those sites have to be visited and repaired in order. And that’s what takes so long.”
Eck said the company is prepared for what may happen next.
“We’re as well positioned to handle this as we can be,” he said, “because we have 3,000 people working this storm now on the ground in New Jersey. We’ll hold over all of those workers until we’re done with this storm and whatever we have coming tomorrow as well.”
The utility may get an earful this afternoon when the Hunterdon Freeholders meet. Hunterdon County Freeholder Director Matt Holt has already slammed JCP&L’s performance and called it “unacceptable.” The public portion of that meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Freeholder meeting room at the county Administration Building on Main Street here.