Today, April 5, 2013, Area Manager John Anderson is speaking to customers about the improvements JCP&L has made since Hurricane Sandy and how we continue to invest in our system for future storms and reliability.

Hurricane Sandy was the worst storm to ever hit the New York - New Jersey region. We experienced 1.3 million outages in our service area and received 850,000 outage calls - the most ever in a single restoration event. With 65,000 trees down and 34,000 hazard locations, 13,800 line workers, forestry workers and support personnel helped restore power. They replaced 19,200 crossarms on utility poles, 6,700 damaged poles, 3,600 transformers and installed 400 miles of new wire - enough to travel the Jersey Shore four times.

Since Hurricane Sandy, JCP&L has provided municipalities with more detailed maps of the electric circuits, committed to moving municipal liaisons closer to the communities, expanded teleconferences during major storms for more detailed restoration information, and started training for county and municipal workers among many other changes.

We also recently announced new advances so customers can get text message and email alerts on their smartphones. And, working with state regulators, all electric utilities are focused on improving the details on restoration times and coordination during major storms.

Residents submitted questions in advance of the meeting. Some of their questions and our answers are below.

How did JCP&L prepare for Hurricane Sandy?

Our preparation is well documented and led to the largest restoration effort in company history, drawing resources from 29 states and the District of Columbia. We moved line crews from other FirstEnergy utility companies and forestry crews into New Jersey well in advance of the storm, cleared potential clogs in streams near substations to minimize flooding, and sandbagged around specific substations.

Truckloads of necessary material, like power lines, cross arms and poles, were deployed ahead of the storm. During the recovering, we had plenty of material and no work was delayed.

How was damage assessed?

Once it was safe, hundreds of hazard responders deployed throughout our territory to all 34,000 damage locations to identify what was needed for repair. Repair crews using the detailed information from hazard responders followed soon after. JCP&L also inspected lines using six helicopters. JCP&L employees were stationed in the county offices of emergency management to coordinate work.

We also have installed Mutualink to expand our communications with emergency management system.

How did the outage reporting system respond?

Our system handled 850,000 customer outage calls - the most ever taken in a single restoration event. Calls helped identify outage causes and prioritize repairs. Ultimately, the system helped us restore power as quickly as possible given the widespread damage.

What is being done to improve communications?

In January, JCP&L held meetings with mayors and municipal officials to gain their feedback and make improvements. Officials want more specific restoration information in such damaging events. As a part of post-storm continuous improvement, all of New Jersey's electric utilities are working with the BPU to provide more detailed town-by-town estimated restoration times during large storms. JCP&L also has expanded information available through smartphones using Twitter, Facebook, text messaging and email.

How often is equipment inspected and replaced?

Inspections occur continuously. Utility poles are inspected on a 10-year cycle per regulatory requirements. Substations are inspected monthly. Overhead lines are inspected every five years and we use Thermovision cameras to inspect for trouble spots every four years. Our continuous vegetation management program means every tree is trimmed back from wires every four years. Our engineers are constantly monitoring equipment and it is replaced as needed.

How will JCP&L be better prepared for the next major storm?

We are always improving. By improving information available through smartphones, we can communicate with more people faster. All New Jersey electric utilities, including JCP&L, are taking steps with the BPU to manage extraordinary storm events. In addition, we expect to spend $200 million on maintenance this year, and will invest millions more to improve our transmission service.

JCP&L also is evaluating future hardening programs, which must be approved by the BPU. Strengthening the system can be costly and does not a guarantee against massive outages if we have another Hurricane Sandy. We are working hard to both minimize impacts of such large storms plus improve the availability of information related to our restoration efforts.