Frequently Asked Outage Questions

  • What causes outages?

    FirstEnergy is committed to providing reliable electric service, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. However, events outside of our control can cause disruptions to your service.

    The most common cause of a power outage is a storm. Thunderstorms, windstorms and snowstorms can all cause damage to power lines and electrical equipment. Heavy rain can also saturate the ground and cause trees to fall on power lines.

    Other common power outage causes include:

    • Vehicle accidents that involve utility poles
    • Animals chewing on or contacting electrical equipment
    • Foil balloons contacting power lines
    • Trenching, digging and other construction projects that damage underground cables
  • Why do I have to call you? Don't you know when an outage occurs?

    Our technology helps us identify when large blocks of customers are without power, but it does not tell us where individual outages occur. We count on your help by reporting your outage, and we thank you for your assistance.

    Customer outage reports provide us with more detailed information that helps us pinpoint the damage. Don’t rely on your neighbors to report an outage – the more information we have, the better.

    There are several ways you can report an outage, including:

    • Report an outage online.
    • Call 888-LIGHTSS (888-544-4877).
    • Report your outage via text message by texting OUT to 544487. To register for our text messaging service, text REG to 544487.
      (Message and data rates may apply.)
    • View/report power outages on our 24/7 Power Center map 
    • Customers with a communications disability can report an outage by using the appropriate TTY/TDD relay service, or by using the online form or text message service listed above.

    After local power lines are repaired and put back into service, damage to individual customer service wires may become apparent. If your neighbor’s power is on and yours is not, the problem may be isolated to your individual service. Customers are encouraged to report this to us at any time to help us identify any problems that we may not have been aware of earlier.

    At other times, it may be necessary to turn off your power once more to safely repair other problems. In any case, our crews work to restore your power again as soon as safely possible.

  • What should I do if I see a downed wire?

    If you see a black coating on wires, it is not insulation. This coating is to protect the wire from elements like snow, ice, wind and rain. You cannot rely on this for personal protection. It doesn’t matter if the wire is touching the ground or not, and it doesn’t matter if it’s not arcing either—it can still be energized. Anyone touching the downed wire, or items or debris that wire is touching, can be seriously injured or killed.

    Also, the ground around a downed wire can be energized. For distribution wires, stay AT LEAST 30 feet away (in all directions) from downed wires or else you can be electrocuted from the ground being energized. For transmission wires, stay AT LEAST 100 feet away. For reference, 30 feet is about the length of a normal school bus.

  • When I call your outage number, why doesn’t it just connect me to a customer service representative?

    Our automated Outage Reporting Line (888-LIGHTSS) is designed to handle the large volume of calls that occur during a widespread outage to better serve our customers. When you call the Outage Reporting Line, the automated system will use your phone number to locate your account in order to report your outage. It is not required to speak with a customer service representative to report your outage.

    In the case of an emergency, such as a downed power line or other electrical hazard, please call 911.

    In addition to 888-LIGHTSS, there are several other ways to report your outage:

    • Report an outage online
    • Report your outage via text message by texting OUT to 544487. To register for our text messaging service, text REG to 544487.
      (Message and data rates may apply.)
    • View/report power outages on our 24/7 Power Center maps.
    • Customers with a communications disability can report an outage by using the appropriate TTY/TDD relay service, or by using the online form or text message service listed above.
  • Why does it sometimes seem like it takes so long to restore my power?

    Restoration from a widespread outage, such as a severe storm, can sometimes take longer than you may expect. Safety is always our #1 priority, so our crews follow a formal process to restore power to all customers as quickly and safely as possible. Power may be out for a large number of residential customers, as well as hospitals, police and fire departments, water pumping stations, schools and other important public facilities.

    As the restoration effort winds down, crews address many localized issues and restore power to individual customers. This is the most time-consuming, labor intensive and complex part of service restoration, requiring crews to travel to each individual location.

    Learn more about our restoration process.

    To stay informed during the outage restoration process:

  • Why can’t a contact center representative tell me exactly when my power will be restored?

    Widespread damage from a severe storm may make it impossible to accurately predict when a particular customer's power will be restored - especially in the early phases of an outage when the extent of damage is being assessed. Estimated times of restorations (ETRs) may be suspended while these assessments take place.

    High-voltage transmission lines must be addressed first because they supply electricity to the entire distribution system. Substations are repaired next in order to energize local distribution lines. A distribution line serving a local area may have multiple damage locations, all of which must be found and repaired. All these factors affect our ability to predict when a specific customer's power will be restored.

    A global estimated restoration time is applied in large-scale outages, indicating the time that the very last customer affected is expected to have power restored. Electrical service for many customers will be restored prior to this time.

    Estimated restoration times may be updated as the restoration process progresses and specific outage restoration times become clearer.

    To stay informed during the outage restoration process:

  • What is the best source of information for FirstEnergy’s operating company restoration efforts?

    FirstEnergy’s 24/7 Power Center outage maps show individual outage locations, as well as the best available estimated restoration time and outage cause, if available.

    Customers can also sign up for automated email or text message alerts to receive severe weather alerts in advance of storms and restoration updates when they have reported an outage. Learn more and enroll in these services.

    During storms and emergency restoration activities, FirstEnergy also provides updates via media outlets and on our social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter. Outside of storm and emergency situations, these pages are regularly updated with news, energy efficiency and electrical safety tips, and more. 

  • Why did a service truck go through my neighborhood without stopping to restore my power?

    Line crews may be enroute to address a hazardous situation, to repair the transmission or substation facilities that feed the local network, or to address outages at critical public service facilities. Workers may also be on their way to make repairs that must be completed before electricity can safely reach your location.

    Additionally, lines may be damaged in multiple locations, and the problem affecting your service may be located some distance from your immediate community.

  • Can I use a portable generator to power my home during an outage?

    Backup generators can provide an emergency power supply, enabling you to keep important equipment running during a power outage. It's important to review the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure generators are properly installed and operated to prevent health and safety risks for you and our crews.

    Learn more about safe generation installation.

  • Why does my power sometimes blink, so that my digital clocks need to be reset?

    Like a circuit breaker in your home, a power blink (typically a few seconds) occurs when our system automatically shuts off to isolate the problem area. When the line is cleared, our system resets itself and electric service is quickly restored. Briefly shutting off power and isolating the problem helps prevent damage to the electrical system, which could result in a longer outage and affect many more customers. These short power interruptions may occur at any time, even on a sunny day.  They can be caused by several factors including:

    • Vegetation such as a tree branch contacting the power lines
    • Animals interfering with electrical equipment
    • Lightning strikes
    • Damaged electrical equipment

    If you are experiencing frequent momentary power outages, please call us at 888-LIGHTSS (888-544-4877) to alert us to this issue.

  • Do you reimburse for food loss or damaged equipment during an outage?

    Outages due to weather are beyond our control, and although we attempt to restore power as quickly and safely as possible, extensive damage can take several days to repair. Unfortunately, FirstEnergy does not reimburse customers for equipment damaged or food lost during a weather-related outage.

    Customers should contact their renter’s or homeowner’s insurance carrier to determine if their policies cover such losses.

  • Do I receive a credit on my electric bill for the time I was without power?

    You are only charged for the electricity you use. During the time your service was interrupted, your meter did not register electric usage and you will not be charged for any consumption.

  • What does FirstEnergy do to manage trees and vegetation along power lines?

    To help ensure reliable and safe electric service, FirstEnergy's Vegetation Management Program works to keep our transmission and distribution rights-of-way free of incompatible trees and other vegetation.

    Professional vegetation management crews assess each situation to determine the best approach to prevent trees from interfering with electrical facilities. Based on this assessment, they may use power saws, EPA-approved herbicides, mechanical equipment or a combination of methods to control the vegetation.

    Compatible shrubs that do not interfere with electric facilities are not disturbed.

    Learn more about vegetation management

  • I see trees that could potentially damage power lines. Why haven’t you done anything about them?

    FirstEnergy forestry crews regularly trim and remove trees that are potential hazards to our lines. Our power line right-of-ways are evaluated on a regular, rotating basis.

    Unfortunately, in most storms, tree damage to power lines is caused by what are known as “off-corridor” trees. We are typically prohibited from trimming these trees, even though they may pose a hazard to lines. If you see trees that pose a potential hazard to power lines, please report them by calling 800-662-3115 and we’ll send a crew out to investigate

  • I see a FirstEnergy utility truck parked. Why aren’t they working?

    Safety is FirstEnergy’s top priority. Crews may arrive at a job site and require police or flagger assistance to protect the work area. Extensive safety briefings are also held at the job site before any work is commenced.

    During large scale outages, FirstEnergy’s utilities utilize staging areas to prepare crews and deliver job orders. These areas, typically parking lots, are more efficient than driving to a different staging area or line shop farther away.

  • I have a family member that is dependent on power for medical equipment. When will my power be back on?

    If any member of your household depends on electrically operated life-support equipment, please let us know by calling 800-662-3115. We will send you a form that must be completed and signed by your physician every year to verify that you have life-support equipment.

    When we receive your completed form, we will add your name to our Critical Care list. The list will be used during a power outage to contact all Critical Care Customers by telephone if the outage may affect their electric service for more than 24 hours.

    In addition, the list will be provided to county and municipal Offices of Emergency Management. There is no charge for this service.

    In case of power outages, it's important that life-support customers have a contingency plan, such as a battery backup.