FirstEnergy Utilities Preparing for Powerful Winter Storm
Company personnel ready to respond to outages caused by heavy snowfall and ice accumulation beginning Wednesday
AKRON, Ohio – FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) utility personnel are prepared to respond to service interruptions caused by a complex winter storm that is expected to bring heavy snow and damaging ice to Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia this week.
Company meteorologists have been tracking the winter storm for several days. The slow-moving system could bring up to 2 feet of snowfall in western Ohio and a combination of rain, sleet, ice accumulation and snow to central and eastern Ohio, western and central Pennsylvania and far western West Virginia. Minor ice and snow accumulation is possible in the remaining parts of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, as well as Maryland and New Jersey. Localized flooding could occur in areas where rain mixes with melting snow. Precipitation will begin early in the day on Wednesday and continue into Friday for many areas.
“While we invest in our electric system throughout the year to enhance service reliability for customers, significant accumulations of ice and snow have the potential to cause power outages,” said Sam Belcher, senior vice president of FirstEnergy and president of FirstEnergy Utilities. “We understand the challenges of being without power, especially this time of year, and we are taking every step to ensure our crews are prepared to restore electric service to customers impacted by the storm as quickly and safely as possible.”
FirstEnergy’s electric utilities are implementing storm response plans, which include staffing additional dispatchers, damage assessors and analysts at regional dispatch offices, and arranging to bring in additional line, substation and forestry personnel, as needed, based on the severity of the weather. The company has also notified contractors who work throughout FirstEnergy’s footprint on projects to enhance service reliability for customers to be ready to assist with restoration efforts.
The winter storm is expected to impact a significant portion of the United States, with areas as far away as Texas already seeing the storm materialize. FirstEnergy has been in contact with mutual assistance groups and, given the widespread nature of the storm, many companies are preparing to restore power in their own footprints. The company will continue to communicate with contractors and electric industry mutual assistance organizations in the coming days to understand additional crews and other resources that are available to assist with restoration efforts.
FirstEnergy representatives have also been in contact with emergency management officials, state officials, regulators and local officials about the company’s storm preparation efforts.
How to Report Power Outages and Downed Lines
Customers who experience a service interruption due to the storm are encouraged to report their outage by calling 1-888-LIGHTSS (1-888-544-4877), texting OUT to LIGHTS (544487) or clicking the "Report Outage" link on www.firstenergycorp.com.
FirstEnergy customers can sign up to receive email and text message alert notifications for updates after they’ve reported a power outage. 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 at
Ice accumulation can bring down power lines and tree branches. Customers should assume all downed or low-hanging power lines are energized and dangerous. Stay at least 30 feet away and use extra caution where downed lines are tangled in trees or other debris. Report downed lines ASAP by calling 911.
For updated information on the company's current outages, the company’s storm restoration process and tips for staying safe, visit FirstEnergy’s 24/7 Power Center at www.firstenergycorp.com/outages.
Customers Encouraged to Prepare in Advance of the Storm
FirstEnergy encourages customers to plan for the possibility of power outages and cold temperatures due to the impending winter storm by following these tips:
• Keep electronic devices such as cell phones, laptops and tablets fully charged.
• Have a car charger on-hand to charge mobile devices if your power is out. If you have a smart phone, this will ensure you have access to online information sources.
• Keep a flashlight, portable radio and extra batteries handy in the event of a power outage. Tune to a local station for current storm information.
• 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.
• Consider having a hard-wired phone available to report an outage or emergency. A plain, hard-wired phone can operate on power delivered through the phone line.
Operate Backup Generators Safely
Emergency power generators offer an option for customers needing or wanting uninterrupted service. 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. Locate the generator outside of your home and far away from windows, doors and vents. Never locate a generator inside your home.
View additional generator safety information.
FirstEnergy is dedicated to integrity, safety, reliability and operational excellence. Its 10 electric distribution companies form one of the nation's largest investor-owned electric systems, serving customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and New York. The company’s transmission subsidiaries operate approximately 24,000 miles of transmission lines that connect the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. Visit FirstEnergy online at www.firstenergycorp.com and follow FirstEnergy and its operating companies on Twitter: @FirstEnergyCorp, @ToledoEdison, @IlluminatingCo, @OhioEdison, @MonPowerWV, @JCP_L, @Penn_Power, @Penelec, @Met_Ed, @PotomacEdison, @W_Penn_Power.