Email from PSE&G – After the Storm

November 21, 2012

A message from PSE&G…
to our Customers and Community Leaders in New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy.

We know what a devastating time this has been for the people of New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy left more than 1.7 million PSE&G customers without power. Over the two week period, including the Nor’easter, we restored power to more customers than in any other storm in our history – or in the history of any utility in the country. We brought in 1,000 out-of-state line workers and tree trimmers in preparation for the storm and that number grew to more than 4,000 by November 9th. In the first three days alone, we restored service to more than one million customers.

We certainly understand and empathize with the frustration and suffering of those who were without power and heat for a longer period.

This was an unprecedented storm and unusually difficult restoration for several reasons:


The size and the power:

  • Twice the size of Hurricane Irene
  • Widespread impact – 900 square miles
  • Incredibly strong winds – 90MPH

 

When the storm hit:

  • More than 1/3 of our transmission circuits, 1/2 of our sub transmission circuits and more than 3/4 of our distribution circuits were interrupted.
  • The Nor’easter the following week created even more damage and put temporary repairs at risk.

Customers impacted:

  • Twice the number of customers who were impacted by Hurricane Irene, which until now had the distinction of being the worst storm in PSE&G history
  • Almost three times the number of customers in the October 2011 snow storm

Restoration efforts:

  • Record number of trees impacted – 48,000 trees removed or trimmed (compared to 22,500 after Hurricane Irene)
  • Replaced/repaired over 2,400 utility poles, almost three times the number we replaced in the last two storms. (Thanks to pre-storm preparation, we never ran out of equipment to restore service.)
  • The record tree and pole damage slowed our ability to restore power in Union, Middlesex, Bergen and western Essex counties as we struggled to gain access to streets, and in some cases backyards to repair overhead lines.

The Storm Surge:

At a number of switching stations and substations located along the Hudson, Hackensack and Passaic rivers, as well as two switching stations located along the Arthur Kill, the storm surge brought a wall of water ranging from four to eight feet into the locations, damaging the equipment. Some of these stations had never been impacted by water damage in the 50 to 75 years that they existed. The work to restore those stations required painstaking, labor intensive drying and cleaning of equipment to get them back in service.

What Did We Learn and What Are We Working On To Do Better:

Hurricane Sandy and the increased frequency of storms like this – have now defined a new normal. Over the coming weeks, we will study and analyze what happened, what we learned and how we can do better. Here is some of our initial thinking.

The Key Is … Good Customer Communications

We conducted daily calls with the Mayors of every town in our service area and the President of the utility conducted a media briefing every morning.

We fielded over 2.3 million calls into our call center. We sent frequent emails to the more than 800,000 customers that we have email addresses for in our database. We updated our website frequently.

We sent more than 8,000 Twitter messages on outages, restorations, and information about our Mobile Customer Care Centers where we provided food, ice, water, and charging facilities in hard hit areas.

We added 45,000 new Twitter followers during the storm and reached millions of people through their re-tweets. Yet, we know we can improve communication and we’re looking at a number of initiatives.

  • Like every other utility in New Jersey, we were hampered by the lack of information at the meter/customer level. Our systems only have information at the transmission, switching, substation and circuit level. When the circuit is restored, we have no way of knowing that a particular customer does not have service unless they report it individually. We know that led to some frustration.
  • To have customer level information, we need smart grid/ intelligence at the meter. We will be looking at proposals for smart grid technology. This is a decision that must be made at the state level and clearly costs must be taken into consideration.
  • We will continue to encourage customers to sign up for My Account on our website which enables them to report individual outages on line and receive other forms of communication.
  • We will continue to explore improved use of web, text and social media to improve and expand customer communication options.
  • We will work with municipalities, county Offices of Emergency Management and the NJ Board of Public Utilities to further improve crisis communication plans.

 

We Will Continue To Strengthen Our Infrastructure for the New Normal:

To deal with the flooding from heavy rains that we saw in last year’s storms, we identified substations that needed to be protected with barriers and installed them.

  • We will evaluate options to protect substations in coastal areas.
  • The best way to protect the system is to build in redundancy in our distribution system. For example, we will be building a new substation over the next year inland in Newark. With the “loop” design of our network, we can reroute electricity when we have an issue with a substation. So, we will continue to build more redundancy into our system.
  • We will evaluate our tree trimming programs and be more aggressive with trees near power lines and will consider moving from a four-year cycle to a three-year cycle.
  • Repairing damaged equipment in hard-to-reach places is time and resource intensive. We need to consider how we can work with municipal leaders to move utility poles and electrical lines that run through backyards to the curb.
  • We will continue to build up our transmission infrastructure around the state to increase reliability. We expect to invest about $1 billion in transmission enhancements and replacements this year.
  • We will analyze the effectiveness, costs and whether it might make sense to bury some overhead lines to increase reliability.

What Can You Expect

  • To restore customers after a storm of this magnitude, we needed to make a significant number of temporary repairs to our electric delivery system. Crews have continued working to make those repairs permanent and return the system to its normal design.
    • As a result of the impact of the storm and the temporary repairs, for a period of time, the system may be less reliable than usual, and there may be more outages than the utility would experience in a normal day. The good news is that our restoration time will be faster.
    • We ask for your continued patience as we work to restore our system to normal and once again provide the high level of reliability our customers have come to expect.
  • The bills that some customers received in the days following the storm had estimated usage, as meter readers were temporarily re-assigned to helping with the storm. Meter reading is back on schedule and bills will be adjusted for actual usage. You will not be charged for any service that you did not use.
  • We will continue to publish information on our website for customers who need financial assistance in paying their bills.
  • We will continue to communicate with you via bill inserts, our website, Twitter and email.

And Most of All: Thank You

We are grateful to the Governor, to the state and to FEMA for their continuous support.

We are grateful to the first responders across the state – police, firemen, hospitals and emergency crews – who kept all of us safe.

We are very grateful for the support we received from the utility industry across the country and from the malls and businesses who generously provided their properties for our use to organize and mobilize over 4,600 workers in the daunting task of restoring service to the people of New Jersey.

We are both proud of and grateful to the PSE&G teams – those who work in bucket trucks and in call centers, logistics and critical support functions and the more than 1,000 employees who volunteered to lend a hand in the storm – who worked tirelessly to restore service.

We are especially grateful to our customers for their patience during what we know was an incredibly frustrating and difficult time. We appreciate the hundreds of thank you letters, emails, tweets and handmade signs on utility poles.

PSE&G is committed to working with the people of New Jersey to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.

Ralph Izzo,Chairman and CEO, PSEG Ralph LaRossa, COO and President of PSE&G

Latest PSE&G Power Outage Update

November 11, 2012

PSE&G Service Restoration Update – Sunday, November 11, 2012 at 9:30 p.m.

Outages:
— 130 outages remain from Hurricane Sandy. Power has now been restored to 99.9 percent of the 1.7 million customers impacted.

— 740 outages remain from the Nor’easter Wednesday night.

  • PSE&G is working to complete restoration to these remaining customers in Union, Middlesex and Somerset counties, which experienced high winds along the Watchung Mountains during the hurricane and the largest snowfall during the Nor’easter. Most of these outages result from localized issues that were not corrected when a system or circuit outage was restored. These include damaged electrical service lines that lead from the pole to a customer’s home or business.
  • Advice for customers: If your neighbors have had their power restored and you are still out, please call customer service at 1 800-436-7734. If our automated system indicates that power has been restored to your area and you have no power, please follow the prompts to place a new “no power” order. If the system states that your order already is registered, there is no need to place a new one. Unless customers call to report an outage, PSE&G may not know that there is still an issue at a particular location.
  • Since service restoration began, PSE&G has replaced at least 2,500 poles and 1,000 transformers, as well as cut down 41,000 trees, to repair widespread damage from the hurricane. Contrary to rumors, PSE&G has ample supplies of poles and other equipment on hand.

Latest Power Restoration Workplan from PSE&G

November 10, 2012

Here’s the latest workplan from PSE&G for central Jersey. They’re still claiming that all customers will have power restored by the end of the day today, Saturday, November 10th.


PSE&G Power Outage Update

November 9, 2012

PSE&G Service Restoration Update – Friday, November 9, 2012 at 4:00 p.m.

Outages:
— 19,000 remain from Hurricane Sandy. Power has been restored to 98 percent of 1.7 million customers impacted.
— 35,800 remain from the Nor’easter Wednesday night.

  • PSE&G expects to have power restored to 99 percent of remaining customers affected by Hurricane Sandy by midnight tonight. There may be some customers whose restoration will extend into the weekend, depending on the amount of repairs that need to be done in individual neighborhoods. The nearly 4,000 utility and out-of-state linemen will continue to work around the clock until the last customer is back in service.
  • Most of the remaining outages result from localized issues that were not corrected when a system or circuit outage was restored. Since service restoration began, PSE&G has replaced at least 2,500 poles and 1,000 transformers, as well as cut down 41,000 trees, to repair widespread damage from the hurricane. Contrary to rumors, PSE&G has ample supplies of poles and other equipment on hand.
  • Advice for customers: If your neighbors have had their power restored and you are still out, please call customer service at 1 800-436-7734. If our automated system indicates that power has been restored to your area and you have no power, please follow the prompts to place a new “no power” order. If the system states that your order already is registered, there is no need to place a new one. Unless customers call to report an outage, PSE&G may not know that there is still an issue at a particular location.
  • Gas inspections: to safeguard the public’s safety, PSE&G is inspecting customer gas piping, metering equipment and appliances in towns flooded by Sandy. Inspections are complete in 20 towns, with no additional gas shut-offs expected. Door-to-door inspections will continue over the next few days in Harrison, Bayonne, Hoboken, Jersey City, Moonachie and Little Ferry. If someone is not home, we will leave a card with a phone number to call. A gas inspector will be available in the evenings. Inspections will take priority over other gas-related calls, except emergencies.
  • Since the start of the storm, PSE&G call centers have handled more than 2.1 million calls. We have suspended non-emergency work so that more workers are available to respond to customer calls.

PSE&G Power Outage Update 11/8/12

November 8, 2012

PSE&G Service Restoration Update – Thursday, November 8, 2012 

  • Despite the winter storm, the 4,000 out of state workers and 700 PSE&G technicians continued working and had a very productive day, restoring service to more than 70,000 customers affected by Hurricane Sandy since Wednesday morning. We now have 120,000 customers without power as a result of the hurricane. Many of our crews from the south have never worked in snow before but have proven more than capable of handling this new challenge.
  • The winter storm Athena affected service to more than 90,000 customers since about noontime yesterday. Because of the work we have done this week, we already have been able to restore about 50,000 of those customers. The storm impacted a substation in East Brunswick, putting 8,000 customers out of service at 4 p.m. yesterday. That substation came back on line at 8 p.m. last night.
  • PSE&G expects to continue to restore customers still impacted by Hurricane Sandy as well as respond to outages caused by last night’s wind and rain.
  • While work may continue in the rain, federal safety rules prevent line crews from working in bucket trucks when winds are greater than 40 mph. Crews will resume work when it is safe to do so.
  • When repairing damaged lines in an area, we may need to take a line out of service temporarily for safety reasons. Power will be restored as soon as it is safe to do so. We ask for customers’ understanding when this occurs.
  • Customers may see a variety of vehicles at various damage locations. These trucks are staffed with standby personnel, gas workers, meter readers, and support people who are assisting the restoration effort by keeping the public away from downed wires and other electrical equipment while line crews are making repairs at other locations.
  • There currently is no shortage of materials. However, this is an incredible restoration job so we continue to seek materials so we can be covered in case the damage in some areas turns out to be greater than anticipated. FEMA has offered to get materials for us and we will take advantage of that offer.
  • Crews are working 16-hour days, with mandated rest periods and meal breaks.
  • Since the start of the storm, PSE&G call centers have handled more than 1.9 million calls (more than 12 times the normal volume). We have suspended non-emergency work so that more workers are available to respond to customer calls.

PSE&G Power Outage Update 11/7

November 7, 2012

PSE&G Service Restoration Update – Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 5:30 p.m.

Outages: The number of outages due to Hurricane Sandy is about 181,000. The number of additional outages due to the winter storm named Athena is approximately 60,000 statewide and will undoubtedly climb once the expected high winds arrive later tonight.

PSE&G expects to continue to restore customers still impacted by Hurricane Sandy as well as respond to outages caused by tonight’s wind and rain.

While work may continue in the rain, federal safety rules prevent line crews from working in bucket trucks when winds are greater than 40 mph. Crews will resume work when it is safe to do so. There are more than 4,000 out-of-state workers in addition to 700 PSE&G technicians working to restore power.

When repairing damaged lines in an area, we may need to take a line out of service temporarily for safety reasons. Power will be restored as soon as it is safe to do so. We ask for customers’ understanding when this occurs.

Customers may see a variety of vehicles at various damage locations. These trucks are staffed with standby personnel, gas workers, meter readers, and support people who are assisting the restoration effort by keeping the public away from downed wires and other electrical equipment while line crews are making repairs at other locations.

There currently is no shortage of materials. However, this is an incredible restoration job so we continue to seek materials so we can be covered in case the damage in some areas turns out to be greater than anticipated. FEMA has offered to get materials for us and we will take advantage of that offer.

Crews are working 16-hour days, with mandated rest periods and meal breaks.

PSE&G has secured an additional 600 line workers who are being redirected from Pennsylvania, bringing the total to more than 4,600 workers on the ground helping restore power to our customers.

Since the start of the storm, PSE&G call centers have handled more than 1.9 million calls (more than 12 times the normal volume). We have suspended non-emergency work so that more workers are available to respond to customer calls.


Noreaster Athena Hits Central Jersey

November 7, 2012

Many areas of New Jersey are still digging out from Hurricane Sandy and now we’re getting hit by a Noreaster called “Athena.” Here in Franklin Township, we’ve got snow falling and sticking, creating a slippery slush on the roads. Temps are in the thirties, so we’ll be freezing overnight.

The roads in the morning will be treacherous, so many schools have delayed opening or are closed. Check your board of ed. website to see if your school is closed.

If power goes out and you still have your phone working, you can listen to News12NJ on your phone at 646/273-1212. It’s nice to know what’s going on when the power is out.

I’ve already lit candles and have my flashlight and battery-operated radio nearby. Just in case.


Franklin Township Public Schools to Re-Open

November 6, 2012

All Franklin Township Public Schools are re-opening for a regular day schedule starting tomorrow, Wednesday, November 7th, with the exception of Sampson G. Smith School. Sampson sustained roof damage during the storm and is expected to open on November 9th.


Noreaster

November 6, 2012

Tuesday, November 6th
Some schools in Central Jersey are closing early tomorrow due to the next storm coming in. Snow about four inches is predicted, gusty winds up to 45 MPH and poor visibility. It’s a rough blow for the areas hardest hit by Sandy, so we keep our fingers crossed that it doesn’t make matters worse.


PSE&G Power Outage Update 11/6/12

November 6, 2012

PSE&G Service Restoration Update – Tuesday, November 6, 2012 at 11:30 a.m.

–Outage update: PSE&G continues to make progress restoring customers. We currently have 272,700 customers without power. We have restored power to 84 percent of customers affected by the hurricane. We hope to have 90 percent of customers restored by tomorrow morning. We continue to monitor the developing storm moving toward New Jersey and are planning accordingly.

–We have brought four additional substations back in operation in the last 24 hours, restoring power to roughly 17,000 customers in the Bayonne area. We have one substation left out of service (also in Bayonne) and hope to have it back in service today. This will complete the most extensive substation restoration project in the company’s history. We are extremely grateful to the more than 100 out-of-state substation experts who traveled here from around the nation to help with these efforts. We continue to work to restore distribution lines that were impacted by the storm surge.

–PSE&G has secured an additional 600 line workers who are being redirected from Pennsylvania. There are now more than 4,600 workers on the ground helping restore power to our customers.

–PSE&G is also extremely appreciative of the outpouring of support for our injured lineman who continues to make progress toward recovery. Crews from out-of-state passed the hat and collected several thousand dollars to support his family – this was a spontaneous and heartfelt action by people working 16 hours a day far from home. It has deeply touched our company.

–In another example of the out-of-state workers going beyond just restoring power, three workers (Clay Maxley, Sr, Warren Simmons, Kenneth Simmons – a father and son team) from On Power Energy (a Punta Gordo, Florida company) spotted smoke coming from a house. They banged on the door, warning two teenage boys to leave the house with their dog moments before fire ripped through the house.

–Since the start of the storm, PSE&G call centers have handled more than 1.9 million calls (more than 12 times the normal volume). We have suspended non-emergency work so that more workers are available to respond to customer calls.