As Hurricane Joaquin moves closer, power companies make preparations
As the strengthening Hurricane Joaquin bears down on the Garden State, the major utility companies are monitoring and making preparations to contend with the situation.
The storm will offer the power companies a chance to implement many of the lessons learned during Sandy nearly three years ago.
A major hurdle for Joaquin is the weather rolling in ahead of its landfall. Rain has already soaked New Jersey this week and more is expected on Friday before Joaquin heads towards the East Coast.
"Our preparation is certainly underway for looking ahead to Joaquin, but we are prepared for whatever may come as a result of the rain that's forecast over the next several days," said Ron Morano, JCP&L spokesperson.
He said they are deploying a wide array of resources to battle Joaquin's impact.
"We've taken some aggressive storm preparation steps, including setting specially-designed flood barriers and pumps in several key substations as an added precaution," Morano said.
In addition, JCP&L is working to secure additional hazard responders from a new electrical union partnership, preparing to activate its Emergency Command Center, communicating with officials from all around the state, and beginning planning for staging areas for outside crews and equipment.
Atlantic City Electric has also ramped up efforts ahead of the storm's landfall.
They have additional internal linemen, overhead line contractors, and tree crews on standby to assist with any outage restoration efforts. That is in addition to AC Electric's year-round tree-trimming initiative and ongoing projects to enhance their system for these types of weather events.
Still, spokesperson Frank Tedesco cautions customers to be ready for the possibility of service interruptions.
"If it's a severe event, there could be outages, so we just ask that customers prepare," Tedesco said.
The company made vast efforts to improve communication on outages and restorations with customers since Sandy.
Tedesco said they are keeping an eye on the weather heading into Joaquin's likely arrival.
"The ground is saturated and wet," Tedesco said. "There could be trees that are already compromised and if we have some heavy winds on Sunday, that could be an issue."
PSE&G is also making their preparations for Joaquin's arrival.
"While it is too early to know with any certainty when and where Joaquin will make land -- and the strength of the storm when it does -- we take every storm with the potential for outages seriously," said John Latka, senior vice president of electric and gas operations for PSE&G. "We are activating our emergency protocol and personnel, and performing system checks on critical transmission and distribution equipment. Also, we are requesting mutual aid from other utilities, securing additional tree crews and ensuring the availability of materials and supplies."