AKRON OH – Utility emergency crews working for FirstEnergy Corp. and its local subsidiary, Met-Ed, “are prepared to respond to potential service interruptions” caused by a fierce storm predicted to hit Tuesday and Wednesday (Jan. 9-10, 2024) in Montgomery, Berks and Chester counties, the company said.
Metropolitan Edison, as it’s formally known, provides electric service to about 560,000 customers across portions of Pennsylvania. They include homes and businesses in an irregularly shaped area from northeastern Lower Pottsgrove Township in the south to Hamburg PA in the north, and from Hereford Township in the east to Shartlesville PA in the west.
Other utility companies serving parts of the three-county area are PECO Energy and PPL.
FirstEnergy meteorologists said they have been tracking the multi-state storm for several days. In southeastern Pennsylvania, the storm is anticipated to bring heavy rains, with localized flooding possible through Wednesday. Strong wind gusts of more than 50 miles an hour also are expected.
Met-Ed’s advance storm planning
To battle whatever the weather may bring, Met-Ed said it was:
- Implementing 16-hour-shifts for storm personnel with around-the-clock coverage;
- Staffing additional internal operators, damage assessors, and analysts at distribution control centers to assist with high volumes of outage calls;
- Notifying contractors to be ready to assist with restoration efforts;
- Securing additional line, substation, and forestry personnel; and
- Contacting emergency management officials, state officials, regulators, and local officials about the company’s storm preparation efforts.
It warned that sustained winds and heavy rain could slow restoration efforts. “Crews cannot safely operate bucket trucks when wind speeds exceed 40 miles per hour,” Met-Ed explained. Saturated soil and flooding can also hinder access, and create hazardous conditions for crews as they work to make repairs to lines and equipment damaged by fallen trees and branches.
After a major weather event, hundreds or even thousands of damage locations, including broken poles and downed power lines, are common. The formal restoration process focuses on addressing widespread outages first, before tackling more isolated issues.
Overall, FirstEnergy noted, its personnel prioritize clearing hazards like downed power lines, trees and blocked roads to ensure public safety. Employees must also assess damage to enable line crews to access outage sites and initiate safe repairs.