For the 15th consecutive year, FirstEnergy Corp. gets recognition for its emergency response efforts from the Edison Electric Institute (EEI). FirstEnergy earned both the “Emergency Recovery Award” for safely and efficiently restoring service to more than 800,000 of its New Jersey and Pennsylvania customers following Tropical Storm Isaias and the “Emergency Assistance Award” for its efforts to help Entergy with restoration efforts in Texas and Louisiana following Hurricane Laura, both of which occurred in August 2020.
“Over the past year, many of our nation’s electric companies and their customers have endured historic storms and wildfires and other significant weather-related events,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “Working around the clock to restore power safely and quickly to customers and deploying mutual assistance crews to support impacted companies are hallmarks of the electric power industry. When disasters strike, impacted and neighboring electric companies are quick to assess damage and to respond and assist with restoration.”
“When severe weather impacts our customers, we have well developed storm restoration plans that are quickly implemented to reduce their outage time and keep them safe,” said Sam Belcher, senior vice president of FirstEnergy and president of FirstEnergy Utilities. “This award recognizes the efforts of our crews in the field who worked safely around the clock in difficult, and sometimes hazardous, conditions to help our customers and the customers of our partner utilities.”
On August 4, Tropical Storm Isaias passed swiftly through New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania, pouring down up to 7″ of rain and battering the region with wind gusts exceeding 65 mph. A massive restoration effort was launched that ultimately included more than 9,000 line workers, hazard responders, damage assessors and other support staff from FirstEnergy companies, contractors, and assisting utilities. Electric Repairs included replacing more than 700 utility poles, 600 transformers and other equipment, and approximately 71 miles of wire. The joint effort helped in restoration of service to 85% of affected customers within 3 days of the start of the storm, with more than 99% of customers restored by August 10.
On the evening of August 26, Hurricane Laura made landfall in Texas and Louisiana. The category 4 hurricane brought extreme winds, storm surge and flash flooding along the northwest Gulf Coast. More than 500 line workers, forestry crews and support personnel from eight of FirstEnergy’s utilities were deployed to the most damaged areas to support service restoration for Electric, who was part of FirstEnergy’s mutual assistance effort for Tropical Storm Isaias just weeks earlier. FirstEnergy is a member of multiple electric utility mutual-assistance groups that work cooperatively to restore service to customers when a natural disaster causes large-scale power outages. Mutual assistance allows utilities to pool their resources to help restore power to customers faster.
EEI presents awards twice annually to member companies to recognize extraordinary efforts for restoration of power or for assisting other electric companies after service disruptions caused by weather conditions and other natural events. Winners are chosen by a panel of independent judges following an international nomination process. The awards were presented January 14, 2021, during the winter EEI Board of Directors and CEO meeting.