FirstEnergy Corp. has earned recognition from the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), the association representing investor-owned electric companies, for its emergency response efforts after a significant wind event caused more than 364,000 customers in Ohio and Pennsylvania to lose power in early March of this year.
More than 4,500 company line workers, contractors, damage assessors, forestry specialists, support personnel, and line workers from other utilities, were part of the large-scale emergency effort that restored a majority of customers within 24 hours, and 98% within 48 hours. Overall, about 438,000 man-hours were worked, including replacing 500 utility poles, 200 transformers, and more than 30 miles of wire.
The wind event began March 8, producing sustained winds of 40 mph for more than 12 hours, with peak gusts measuring 70 mph in the Youngstown, Ohio, area. The high winds and resulting downed trees and debris that blocked roads complicated the restoration efforts. Because other utilities in the Great Lakes region also experienced wind-related outages, outside assistance was limited in the first 36 hours of the event.
"As a large utility, we can quickly mobilize internal resources to help speed the restoration process for our customers," said Steven Strah, senior vice president of FirstEnergy and president of FirstEnergy Utilities. "It is very gratifying to be honored by EEI with the Emergency Recovery Award for the work that was done by our employees to safely make repairs in thousands of damage locations in a timely manner."
"The tireless work of FirstEnergy crews to restore service following the March storm exemplifies our industry's commitment to customer service," said EEI President Tom Kuhn. "The courageous and dedicated FirstEnergy crews who faced hazardous conditions are greatly deserving of this recognition."
EEI presents awards twice annually to member companies to recognize their extraordinary efforts to restore service to customers after severe weather conditions caused numerous service disruptions. Winners were chosen by a panel of judges following an international nomination process. The awards were presented June 13, 2017, during EEI's annual convention in Boston.
This marks the 21st time that FirstEnergy has been honored by EEI with the Emergency Recovery Award for work done to restore its own customers, or the Emergency Assistance Award, which recognizes work done to assist other utilities restoring electric service during emergency events.
EEI is the association that represents all U.S. investor-owned electric companies. Members provide electricity for 220 million Americans, and operate in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. As a whole, the electric power industry supports more than 7 million jobs in communities across the United States. EEI has more than 60 international electric companies as International Members, and hundreds of industry suppliers and related organizations as Associate Members.
FirstEnergy is dedicated to safety, reliability and operational excellence. Its 10 electric distribution companies form one of the nation's largest investor-owned electric systems, serving customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and New York. The company's transmission subsidiaries operate more than 24,000 miles of transmission lines that connect the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions.