Ready to Respond
September 29, 2021
September is National Preparedness Month, a month dedicated to informing the public about the importance of preparing ahead of time to minimize the impact disasters, such as significant weather events, may bring.
Storms with damaging winds, heavy precipitation and lightning have the potential to impact our electrical system. Once the storm has passed, we implement a formal process to restore power to customers as quickly and safely as possible.
Crews on the Move
As outage reports from customers roll in after a storm, the data is logged into our Outage Management System (OMS), which automatically evaluates the pattern of reported outages and determines the likely location of the trouble.
The restoration process begins when a regional dispatcher sends crews to probable trouble locations. Depending on the magnitude of the storm, there could be hundreds or even thousands of damage locations that need to be addressed, so this process can be lengthy.
Our first priority is to clear hazards – such as downed power lines, downed trees and equipment blocking the roads – and to assess damage so that our line crews can access the site of an outage and begin to safely make the repairs. To do this, we send multiple crews at different times with different responsibilities.
Damage assessors, typically experienced engineers or flight operators with drones or helicopters, are sent to analyze damage and report back critical on-site information. This helps us determine the required resources and establish repair plans for individual issues.
Concurrently, hazard responders are dispatched to damage locations, such as downed lines, to protect the public from these hazards until a line crew has arrived. While hazard responders are not qualified to make repairs, their support is necessary to ensure everyone remains safe until repairs are completed.
Before line crews can make repairs and re-energize power in some areas, forestry crews and tree contractors must quickly and safely clear fallen trees and limbs.
Once hazard locations have been identified, analyzed and cleared, line workers follow an established protocol to restore power to customers as quickly and safely as possible.
Generally, transmission and substation facilities are repaired first since they supply power for the local distribution power lines that serve communities, neighborhoods and individual customers. Next, we give priority to hospitals and other critical medical facilities, communications facilities and emergency response agencies. After that, crews work to restore power as quickly as possible to the rest of our customers, typically addressing outages that restore the largest number of homes and businesses before moving to more isolated problems.
While hundreds of employees may be engaged during the complex restoration process, there is often work that must be completed by different crews at multiple locations before power can be safely restored. As a result, customers may see crews come and go a few times before their lights return.
For more information on FirstEnergy’s storm preparation and restoration process, visit our outage information pages. You can also follow us on social media for important safety reminders and tips to prepare your family for outages.