Outage update: With current estimates now indicating that the number of customers impacted by Hurricane Sandy is 1.7 million, PSE&G has restored electricity to about 818,000 customers. At this time, about 882,000 customers are without power. The peak number has jumped as the utility continued with its assessments and additional customers reported that their service was impacted.
Our best forecast as of now is that we will have virtually all of our impacted customers restored to service within the next seven to 10 days. There may still be isolated pockets of customers who have individual flooding or downed line issues that may take slightly longer.
The worst storm in PSE&G's history caused major flooding of substations, damaged power lines and other equipment. Yesterday, the utility successfully brought three flooded substations back on line, allowing major circuits to be restored to the cities of Newark and Elizabeth and Newark Airport. Work continues on other stations including ones that serve Jersey City and the Sewaren area.
The storm surge flooded a large number of substations along the Passaic, Hackensack and Hudson rivers, and the Arthur Kill, disrupting service to customers in Hudson, Essex and Middlesex counties. The magnitude of the flooding in contiguous areas is unprecedented. PSE&G had to take these stations out of service, wait for the flood waters to recede to assess the damage, dry out the equipment, replace equipment when necessary and re-energize the system to restore service.
PSE&G has assembled a "virtual army" of over 1,730 technicians - 600 PSE&G workers and 1,050 workers from across the country -- plus an additional 600 contractors to cut and remove trees.
Ralph LaRossa, PSE&G president, said, "PSE&G will be working around the clock to assess the damage and restore service. Given the destructive nature of this storm, however, some customers may be without service for seven or more days. Our urban centers were especially hard hit as a result of substation flooding. One of our first priorities is to get those stations back in service."
Crews helping in the restoration efforts have come from Texas, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Florida, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Georgia and New Jersey, as well as Canada.
Many of the outages were caused by falling trees and limbs, which bring down power lines. Downed wires should always be considered "live." STAY AWAY FROM ALL DOWNED LINES. Do not approach or drive over a downed line and do not touch anything that it might be in contact with. To report a downed wire and other visible equipment damage, call 1-800-436-PSEG and tell PSE&G the nearest cross street.
To report a power outage, call PSE&G's Customer Service line: 1-800-436-PSEG.
Customers with wells are advised to have a supply of bottled drinking water on hand, and should fill the bathtub with water for sanitary purposes.
Crews work around the clock to repair equipment and restore power. The utility's call center also has been fully staffed on a 24-hour basis to handle calls from customers. Other employees are assisting with assessing storm damage, keeping the public away from any downed power lines and other functions that support restoration efforts.
Electric crews work to restore power to the largest numbers of customers first, taking into account "priority" customers, such as hospitals, police stations, fire stations, water and sewer facilities, communications facilities (TV, radio, and telephone), and customers on life-sustaining medical equipment. At the same time, the utility restores power to homes and businesses, starting with the circuits serving the largest number of customers.
Customers with a handheld device, or who are at an alternate location with power, can also report power outages and view the status of their outage by logging in to My Account at pseg.com. General outage activity throughout our service territory is available online at www.pseg.com/outagecenter and updates are posted on pseg.com during severe weather.
PSE&G has activated its Twitter page to keep the public informed about our restoration progress. Sign up as a follower at http://twitter.com/psegdelivers to monitor restoration progress.