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JCP&L chief defends Sandy performance, praises repair crews

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Hurricane Sandy took homes and businesses as it cut a wide swath across northern New Jersey and left much of the Shore in rubble. Thousands of people have suffered heart-breaking loses that changed their lives overnight.

To reduce Hurricane Sandy and those associated with the restoration effort to winners and losers, as NJBIZ did (“Winners/Losers,” Nov. 12), trivializes one of the worst natural disasters to ever strike our state. We are proud of the work that was done.

The true heroes in this effort were the JCP&L linemen, support personnel, other FirstEnergy employees, contractors and outside utility professionals who immediately started to rebuild what Hurricane Sandy had destroyed. This army came from all over the country to help our residents and businesses return to service.

Prior to the storm, we had additional crews positioned to make the most efficient and effective repairs. Throughout this effort, more than 12,000 total workers, including an incredible 8,500 linemen and 1,500 forestry workers, made safe and steady progress in restoring power to nearly every one of JCP&L’s 1.1 million customers who were affected by the hurricane. Then, the nor’easter hit the region, causing another 130,000 customers to lose power, and our army of workers made even more repairs in very trying conditions.

Our first priority was the thousands of hazard calls, including live downed wires. Next, we focused on the transmission lines that had been destroyed. Over six days, crews, assisted at times by the Army Corps of Engineers and Federal Emergency Management Agency workers, brought the high-voltage lines back.

The next priority was repairing the damage in numerous substations that deliver power to neighborhoods in the region. Many had been protected with sandbags days earlier, but the storm overwhelmed our defenses. When these systems were finally restored, JCP&L was able to fully focus on restoring the local systems that deliver power to homes.

By midweek, our around-the-clock efforts had resulted in 93 percent of affected customers being restored. In less than two weeks, JCP&L’s largest restoration force, including the largest number of linemen in our history, had rebuilt nearly every circuit in our system.

Our work continues. More than 25,000 JCP&L customers on the barrier islands of Monmouth and Ocean counties cannot be restored until roads, homes and other infrastructure are rebuilt. JCP&L is working with federal and state agencies to return that area to service in a safe and timely manner.

Thanks go to many, especially our customers for their continued patience and understanding. I also extend a special thanks to the police, fire and emergency management officials for their dedicated efforts in keeping public safety a priority.

So many talented professionals, including the thousands of utility workers who braved difficult weather and potentially unsafe conditions, worked day and night to rebuild an electrical system in the midst of unprecedented devastation. Their story is one of selfless dedication to the customers JCP&L is privileged to serve. I am proud of their accomplishments.

 

Don Lynch, president
Jersey Central Power & Light
Morristown

 

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