AKRON, Ohio, March 13 -- FirstEnergy issued the following news release:
FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) personnel are prepared to respond when the heavy snow and potentially high winds associated with a forecasted large winter storm impact the eastern part of the country beginning Monday evening through Wednesday.
Company meteorologists are tracking the storm system that could affect areas served by all 10 FirstEnergy utilities, with a greater impact anticipated in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, and West Virginia. Initial estimates show there could be up to two feet of snow in some of the higher elevations, along with winds gusting in the 40-55 mph range. Rain could mix with snow in some areas, causing wet, heavy snow to weigh down trees and power lines, which could result in service interruptions.
FirstEnergy utilities include: Metropolitan Edison Company (Met-Ed), Pennsylvania Electric Company (Penelec), Pennsylvania Power (Penn Power), and West Penn Power in Pennsylvania; Mon Power in West Virginia; Potomac Edison in Maryland and West Virginia; Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) in New Jersey; and Ohio Edison, The Illuminating Company and Toledo Edison in Ohio.
The companies are reviewing storm response plans, which include staffing additional dispatchers and analysts at regional dispatch offices, and are making arrangements to bring in additional line, substation and forestry personnel, as needed, based on the severity of the weather. In addition, FirstEnergy has been in contact with contractors and electric industry mutual assistance organizations about the possibility of assisting with storm restoration efforts.
As part of the storm preparation process, equipment and vehicles are being checked to make sure they are ready to operate in heavy snow conditions.
"A unique challenge with a winter storm is being able to gain access to the outage locations, especially when large snow accumulations hamper travel," said Mark Julian, vice president, Utility Operations, FirstEnergy. "As part of our assessment process, once we know the extent of the storm damage, we can deploy additional crews and resources from our less affected utilities to areas that were hit the hardest."
During severe weather, 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 on www.firstenergycorp.com. 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 exercised in areas where downed wires may be tangled in downed tree branches or other debris.
For updated information on the company's current outages, FirstEnergy's storm restoration process and tips for staying safe, visit the 24/7 Power Center at www.firstenergycorp.com/outages.
Customers are encouraged to prepare for the possibility of outages caused by significant snowfall and high winds:
* Keep electronic devices such as cell phones, laptops and tablet computers fully charged to be ready for any emergencies.
* Keep a flashlight, portable radio and extra batteries handy in the event a power interruption occurs. Tune to a local station for current storm information.
* Never use a portable generator inside the house or a closed garage in the event of a power outage. Ensure the proper generator is 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.
* Gather extra blankets or a sleeping bag for each person. 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.
* Mobile phones can be charged in your vehicle using a car charger when the power is out. If you have a smart phone, this will ensure you have access to online information sources.