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'We're Slowly Making Progress,' JCP&L Rep Says

Utility company spokesman says most power should be restored by Wednesday.

It's understandable that people are frustrated about spending days without electricity in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. A Jersey Central Power and Light spokersperson said the company shares that feeling. But Chris Eck says the light at the tunnel's end is visible, and most restoration should be completed in six days.

"At this point, we can't exactly say when," Eck said. "We're still assessing the damage in some areas that we can't even get to. But we do hope to have most of our customers restored by next Wednesday."

He said there are a number of challenges that are keeping thousands of Parsippanians in the dark.

First, Eck said, is prioritization. Institutions dedicated to public safety simply must get first crack at having power restored.

"Among our priority restorations obviously are health care centers and emergency responders, police, fire, hospitals, dispatch centers and so forth," he said.

Next, JCP&L's 4,000 workers, which cover large swaths of northern and central New Jersey, have to work their way from those closest to power centers and out.

"We're working our way out from the high-voltage lines, so we've already restored 370,000 and we continue to work on those efforts every day while we repair transmission issues in other parts of the state," he said. 

He said the crews are working long days. Often, however, residents don't know this. Many have asked Patch why they have not seen JCP&L trucks in Parsippany.

"It's because we have to work our way out to where they are," he explained. "We work our way down the circuit; we're working upline from [Parsippany]. Just because they haven't seen trucks makes it seem like things aren't happening, but we're working 16-hour shifts around the clock every day."

And restoration is a complicated business.

Eck explained that electricity comes from power-generating plants to electrical high-voltage substations. Subtransmission lines send electricity from the substations to customers.

"From there, you may go through a number of substations before you get to the feeder line that goes to your specific area," he said, and offered an illustration. 

"Think of it as being like the interstate highway system," Eck said. "You have the interstates, and that's your high-voltage [substations], and then your subtransmission lines would be secondary roads, and then down into a feeder line would be a residential street or a smaller road.

"The farther you live from the interstate, the longer it takes you to get home. So the farther you live from the transmission line—not always, but generally—the more opportunity there is for damage between you and your power source."

Sandy created a lot of damage, and repairs simply take time. And then, there are the proliferation of downed trees, some which sat in roadways of the township with traffic cones or sawhorses for long periods of time blocking roads.

"That was a big problem," said Eck. "Just getting around was tough because so many trees were down across roads and so many wires down. We're slowly making progress in that area as municipalities are clearing trees and debris." 

It certainly shows in Parsippany. The township has gone from a high of about 22,000 without power to about 13,978 (as of 6 a.m. Friday). On Thursday, a significant number of JCP&L customers in Lake Hiawatha and Lake Parsippany again saw the light. That was evident in the large number of businesses along North Beverwyck and Parsippany roads that reopened their doors.

Eck said that is a good sign for nearby business and homes still without electricity.

"It's extremely difficult to give neighborhood estimates, but if we're looking at a circuit that already has a bunch of restoration on it, then it's relatively easy to predict that [work crews] are going to move in a particular direction and will get there in x amount of time," he said.

Of course, that is not guaranteed, he cautioned.

"I'm not a transmission expert; I can't tell you exactly how long it would take," Eck said. "Even with that they sometimes run into problems they didn't foresee and find they need to bring in more equipment or forestry crews to clear debris and so forth. 

"Nobody wants their power back on more than we do, but it's not possible to make your infrastructure hurricane-proof."

Glenn November 04, 2012 at 01:57 AM
Total joke JCPL is. at least PSEG is efficient and gives its customers a definitive date for restoration....see below.... http://www.northjersey.com/sitealerts/Power_restoration_projections.html?scpromo=1
Diane Lavaia November 04, 2012 at 12:37 PM
Nice comment - As we all know there has been a tremendous amount of devastation thoughout NJ and NY - no one expects miracles. But we do expect emergency crews to review, plan and strategize the most needed areas where emergencies could be prevented. Your comment "If emergency arises, the responders will get to them" is the stupidest comment I've read in a long time. So tell me - who are you? do you have power? do you have elderly parents, relatives or friends staying with you during this crisis? You truly sound like a fool and should probably move to another town and annoy those people till they kick you out.
drew patel November 04, 2012 at 04:06 PM
JCPL are a bunch of inefficient liars. Its almost like 2 year olds are trying to fix our power problems. I don't blame the hard working people out there. A tleast they are working. The jokers at the top and the idiots responsible for communications are the ones to blame. The same general cover your ass message, that power will be restored by Nov 7th. Well Nov 7th will come in a few days and we'll see if the high tax paying residents of Par-Troy hills in mazda brook get power. Can make your infrastructure hurricane proof? how about improving your communications skills. Tell me who is getting power and when. Someone has to be held responsible for this.
Noemi November 04, 2012 at 05:07 PM
I live in Parsippany and have had no power still! I live in the Park Lake Village apratment complex on Baldwin Rd and half of my complex has not had power since last Monday. Power was restored to buisessness on N. Beverwick last Thursday 11/1, Baldwin Plaza never lost power and Route 46 buisnesses all have their power back but what about the regular homes and people. Our complex and some homes on Vail Rd still no power. This is ridiculous. I just moved to Parsippany and never have I experienced this with PSE&G through any storm. All the people I know that have PSE&G have had power since last Thursday!!!! What is going on JCPL? JCPL needs to go! I guess I will get power back just in time for the new storm coming only to lose power again. Thank you JCPL!!!!
Marsha G November 04, 2012 at 05:42 PM
The comments here calling for an ouster of JCP&L is right on point. They are a disgrace in their preparation and response to Sandy. They learned nothing from Irene or the Oct 2011 snow storm. Even the tone of their responses on social media pales next to PSE&G. I live in Puddingstone Heights. We are on a 1000 home grid. I cannot count the number of times we have lost power in the last few years. And the town of Parsippany, while they collect some of the highest taxes from our development, treats us like stepchildren...from garbage collection to intervening to get us help in clearing a dangerous downed tree and live wires trapping people...they have been a disaster themselves. There needs to be some very, very, serious PUBLIC hearings regarding the performance of JCP&L. when this is over. Do you hear us Gov. Christie????

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