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Companies work to restore utilities

By Staff | Jul 3, 2012

FirstEnergy Corp. crews from Mon Power, assisted by personnel from FirstEnergy’s other utilities and contractors, are removing damaged transmission towers and erecting new lines near Parkersburg, W.Va.

Crews from FirstEnergy Corporation, parent company of the utility companies Mon Power and Potomac Edison, responded quickly to the problem at hand. According to Steven E. Strah, vice president, Distribution Support, FirstEnergy Utilities, the storm damaged more than 65 transmission lines and 70 substations. The damage assessment process is ongoing, with helicopters being used to patrol downed transmission lines. While the company’s storm restoration process is working to restore power to customers as soon as possible, preliminary estimated restoration times indicate that it could be a week before the hardest-hit areas – particularly parts of West Virginia – are fully restored.

More than 3,200 employees from Mon Power, Potomac Edison, West Penn Power, Ohio Edison and other FirstEnergy utilities, assisted by crews from outside contractors and utilities, continue their around-the-clock efforts to restore service to utility customers following Friday night’s severe thunderstorm that left 566,000 customers without power in West Virginia, Maryland, western Pennsylvania and central Ohio.

As of 1:30 p.m. Sunday, FirstEnergy utilities had restored service to more than 314,000 of the more than 566,000 customers affected by the damaging storm.

Personnel from FirstEnergy’s other utilities Toledo Edison, The Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company, Metropolitan Edison, Pennsylvania Power Company, Pennsylvania Electric Company and Jersey Central Power & Light were deployed in the hardest-hit areas. In addition, approximately 1,000 contractors and outside utility crew members from Michigan, Florida, New York and Kentucky assisted with the restoration process.

West Virginia was the hardest-hit area, with severe wind damage reported to the company’s transmission lines. Helicopters were used to inspect the more than 50 transmission lines that were impacted. The company estimated that the majority of affected customers in the Weirton area would be restored around midnight Sunday and customers in the Morgantown area restored around midnight Monday. Estimated restoration times for other areas will be later this week. Overall, approximately 91,000 of the 280,000 affected customers have been restored.

“We’re bringing every available resource to the task of restoring power to our customers,” said Strah. “We’re also working closely with customers as well as state and local officials to keep them informed regarding our service restoration progress.”

FirstEnergy crews and contractors are utilizing the company’s restoration process, which is designed to restore power safely and efficiently for affected customers: First, crews focus on securing hazardous situations such as downed wires to protect public safety. Priority also is given to transmission lines, hospitals, communications facilities, emergency response agencies and substation facilities that supply power for local distribution systems. Repairs are then made to circuits serving the largest number of customers, followed by restoration of service to individual homes.

As debris from the storm continues to be cleared, customers are cautioned never to touch downed lines. Customers should always assume downed wires are carrying electricity and are reminded to keep their children and pets away from downed wires. Downed wires should be reported immediately to your electric company or local police or fire department. Customers should never try to remove trees or limbs from power lines because they could conduct electricity; instead, wait for emergency services or

utility crews to arrive.

Customers may notice hazard responders in areas with downed wires. Their job is to stay on the scene and prevent the public from contacting fallen, energized lines until line crews can make repairs. In addition, temporary repairs may be performed to make an area safe and restore as many customers on a circuit as possible. If crews leave an area to make temporary repairs elsewhere, they will return as soon as possible to complete the remaining work.

For up-to-date information on the company’s restoration effort, current outages, FirstEnergy’s storm restoration process and tips for staying safe, go to www.firstenergycorp.com.