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Hoping for 100 Percent by Saturday, PSEG Makes Big Strides in Restoring Power

They're almost there, said the PSEG president in what will be the last of the hurricane media conferences.


It's day 12 since Hurricane Sandy hit, and PSEG has hit a milestone. The company says it has restored electricity to 98 percent of their customers in their service area, and they're hoping to make it 100 percent by Saturday.

Ralph LaRossa, president and chief operating officer of the company, said in a media update conference call -- the last he hopes he'll be having to discuss Hurricane Sandy and the nor'easter that tore through the area Wednesday -- that even with service restoration, the work isn't over yet.

He gave a big thanks to the 4,500 linemen who poured into New Jersey from all over the country to supplement PSEG's own crews. He spoke to one lineman yesterday, who said he had been working 16 hours a day since even before the hurricane hit to do prep work. "Things are tough at home. His family has been without power through all this. They've been living in the basement with their woodburning stove," LaRossa said.

"With all the sacrifices they've gone through, they're the real heroes out there."

Meanwhile, most of Mercer and Middlesex Counties have had their power restored. Ninety-five percent of Middlesex County customers have power, with 12,000 still waiting for service; in Mercer County, 99 percent have electricity, and 1,500 are without it.

A substation in the Sewaren section of Woodbridge crashed yesterday, blowing the power for customers in portions of Woodbridge Proper, Port Reading, Carteret, Linden, Metuchen, Union, Elizabeth, Kenilworth, Perth Amboy, Roselle, Roselle Park, Westfield, Clark, Edison, and Rahway. 

While 20,000 of those who lost their service got it back by 8 p.m. Thursday, there were still some who hadn't had their electricity restored.

LaRossa was aware of the circuit issues that turned off the juice to homeowners who had had their service restored since Sandy, but lost it again.

"We're going to have crews in that area. We'll see big progress" in restoring service, he said.

Another issue LaRossa addressed was the communication between the utility company and mayors in the service area where power was lost.

"The mayor issue has been the biggest challenge from a communications standpoint," LaRossa said. "Many of them are unpaid and want to help out their neighbors. The information we provide may be accurate when we give it to them, but maybe later in the day they talk to a crew they see and get different information.

"It's impossible for us to be 'real-time' for 236 municipalities across the state."

Part of the reason for the lack of up-to-date information is because none of the out-of-state linemen have the "smart" equipment PSEG employees use. They process all of their updates with written reports that have to be entered into the system at the end of the workday; work that they do simply doesn't show up until it's inputed into the system, LaRossa said.

"We'll try to work on the technology," he added.

The PSEG president said he still felt for the one percent of the company's customers who were still without power.

"There is no way I can prevent everything from happening. Mother Nature certainly dealt us a bad hand in the region," LaRossa said of the double whammy of Hurricane Sandy and Nor'easter Athena coming back-to-back.

When Sandy came through the region he said they'd have service back to customers by Nov. 9, a promise he said they put off only by a day because of the problems caused by the unanticipated winter storm on Wednesday.

For the one percent without power, LaRossa said, "I certainly feel bad. But I know my kids would be real happy getting a ninety-nine in school."

BG November 09, 2012 at 05:36 PM
no power still on old farn\m road and Concrd Road! And no one has any answers!
BG November 09, 2012 at 05:39 PM
And PSE&G's answer is that 99% of the town is running and he knows his kids would be happy with a 99 on a test score?!?! are you kidding me. maybe his kids can come stay in my freezing house with no internet, computer, heat or food!
Doug Cerminaro November 09, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Clydesdale Road is sill without power and we have been told it has been restored which is not true and we would like an accurate time for when it will be restored! It's getting colder out and we need power
ryan November 09, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Julie, have Jeff go out and buy a generator and to stop milking off ur brother....
hctOps November 09, 2012 at 06:56 PM
It is total BS. PSEG came to our door today (Off Cooper Road near island) and said at LEAST 2-3 more days. Call PSEG they said we weren't told that. So who are we to believe? This is getting insane now. PSEG has a major issue with their internal communications that they need to fix. We are the customers after all. Problem is we have no choice. It's PSE&G or nobody. If I treated my customers with this level of poor communication, we'd be out of business. We all understand the linemen are working overtime and doing the best they can, but why can't the management at PSE&G tell us a consistant answer and tell us why it is taking so long. Is there a sub-station being rebuilt somewhere, did they not schedule enough people in SP to get it fix faster, did they run out of materials and parts, are they out of poles, etc. Not asking for a hard date, but how about just communicate with us instead of guessing, leaving us out in the dark (LOL), and making your customer service people take the brunt of people's frustrations?
Doug Cerminaro November 09, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Does anyone have any info on Clydesdale Road or Cooper ?
Patchmein November 09, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Just a reminder of who comes first in any publicly traded company.... the shareholders.
Jon November 09, 2012 at 08:29 PM
The entire block of Wallberg Ave still has no power & Girard Ave still has downed power lines, transformers and telephone poles that look dangerous. PSE&G hotline said they didn't even have a crew assigned there yet. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't see how they can possibly have power up by tomorrow.
SP Resident (Southern) November 10, 2012 at 01:59 AM
Just curious-how long did you go without power, Mr. LaRossa? How many nights did your children have to sleep in an dark icebox? How many days did you go without any form of heat or electricity? In fact, did you ever have to go without Internet, email or lights? What hardships have you had to face? Your comment about 99 percent was so insensitive to those of us still without power that it is my hope that someone above you in position will read this and have you fired, because you deserve nothing less!
Phil November 10, 2012 at 03:57 AM
We had power last Friday and lost it again on Wednesday, Paterson Rd (Terril end), Fanwood. Got a nice note today saying to call PSE&G at this number if you are out of power. Our neighbor two doors up has had no power at all since Sandy and was told by Mayor Maher today that the Town has done all it can and to work directly with PSE&G. This makes no sense. Fanwood is a small enough town thatone point person should have the names and addresses of all those remaining without power (presuming >90% no have power; that is not too tall an order) and work for your constituents. No, they have left the few and we will now in an uncoordinated manner like my very irrate nieghbor all jam up the phone lines and probably serve to make PSE&G irrate too. But more concerning to me, the reason why power is out two doors up is because the top half of a telegraph pole is still dangling from a tree. Now the leaves are gone, I am unsure how secure this is getting a better look at it. It is hanging right over the sidewalk, which I believe the Town of Fanwood owns correct? This is where we walk our dog and two children, instead now we go into the road. There are many people that use that sidewalk. Not only is there no power here right now, but the area is not even secure on public lands. Midnight tonight is the deadline given to me for power by PSE&G. Tomorrow I am thinking of getting rather irrate.
maureen Maguire November 10, 2012 at 11:03 AM
Any updates kn Cooper road? I asked two guys working on the street and one told me Friday night (didn't happen) and the other hoped sunday night. Today is day 13. Patch Can u get us a real update here?!
Derek November 10, 2012 at 12:11 PM
Ditto what Phil said above. All you can do is call PSE&G constantly. I was told many different things yesterday by them so I complained to the NJ BPU. Lets see what happens.
trythetruth November 10, 2012 at 01:09 PM
The PSEG reps that don't know....haven't been told. The PSEG reps that know...are lying. If 99% of their customers have been restored, how come 99% of their resources aren't mobilized to the 1% of the areas still without? Are there 30-40 PSEG trucks on Cooper and other streets? Didn't think so. Once again, where is Mary? Where is Mr Newly Elected? Where is Tubby? Thanks for the help!!
Phil November 10, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Great point. On my lunch run in Summit yesterday there were about 4 trucks putting in new poles on Oak Ridge Road (off Mountain Ave nr. Overlook, nice houses quiet road). The poles were lined on the side of the street ready for placement. I saw another 3 trucks on Mountain Ave doing the same and I passed another train of trucks coming back down Morris Ave. Compare that to nothing around our area of Fanwood for 3 days.
Patchmein November 10, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Phil, time to get irate. We had also been promised 11 PM on Friday night. Spoke with a nice rep last night at midnight who was putting in a work order for Grandview Ave. in Westfield. She said they would be here by 8 am. 10 am and no sign of the calvary. One Comcast guy showed up and a Verizion truck that drove away when I approached him. I hope he never gets his power back. Day 13 and counting....
liffey boy November 10, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Church Avenue...still no power on this end and no updates! How has Scotch Plains communicated anything to anybody, particularly seniors who have been without power since this began, via the town website?? NO POWER = NO TV AND NO INTERNET... DO YOU GET IT NOW MAYOR/COUNCIL/PSE&G OR WAS THAT EVER A CONSIDERATION! USELESS MUPPETS!!
Derek November 10, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Patchmein and Phil. What do we do? I see no one working on elm ave or Paterson road. I am off on Monday and am happy to take a sign to the mayer's office and petition there. The more noise we make the better. I am sick I wrong different answers from PSE&G Now they say Sunday. I have registered a complaint with the NJ BPU but even they didn't call me back. Doing this on my phone so a little tough to get the details I am after. Does anyone have the editors email address for patch. I would like everyone to know the BS we are going through here.
Phil November 10, 2012 at 10:03 PM
Indeed, we now have all the trucks here! Mayor no good. PSE&G phoning no good, and yes we all did it in an uncoordinated fashion. It took one neighbor, who has had enough, who flagged down a passing utility truck. A crew from Florida (Gulf Power) who were then unaware still of our issue (see phoning no good) and said they would be back with new poles. . . . . early afternoon they were back with friends and are working. These guys once we physically got hold of them were great. They are still outside as we speak. Hopefully this solves it. What sweetens this situation is we learned that Elm/Paterson is the last section of Fanwood to be done and would have gone under the radar. Good luck to those still trying to get back on in Scotch Plains and Westfield.
Danae Britz November 11, 2012 at 12:39 AM
East Brunswick lost power again. Now it is on but we have no idea when and if it will go out again Really r u kidding me
maureen Maguire November 11, 2012 at 02:12 AM
I never for power in scotch plains.. When will we have it!????????
Patchmein November 11, 2012 at 03:20 AM
Phil, we went through a similiar incident today as well. One of my neighbors spotted a police suv going up our block that had Assemblyman Jon Bramnick in it along with the mayor. He ran after them and flagged them down. Bramnick said they were going to find a crew and send them over. He gave my neighbor his card and said to email him every hour to let him know if anyone showed up. A KU crew (thank you Kevin and Brian!) from Kentucky showed up shortly after and fixed it within 15 min. We suffered unnecessarily for six extra days because of an absolute lack of communication within PSEG. You can also throw in there that the original subcontracted crew had no experience with this type of transformer and didn't know that all they needed to was push a button to activate it. Unbelievable. A huge shout out to Jon Bramnick for making this happen! Bottom line is that if you want power you need to corral a crew back to your house. Good luck everyone.
Derek November 11, 2012 at 04:06 AM
Indeed. I am Phil's neighbor and as he said, we have power back now but not until we all tried everything we could think of. I think caslling the NJ BPU does help because I got 2 calls from them today asking if anything had been done but ultimately finding a crew and pointing out to them the problems is the only way to get help. I called the town office asking for the spreadsheet with each street name on it and it's status. I was never told if this exists but they did know that I still didn't have power yesterday. They asked me to call PSE&G and the police chief and mayor even posted a flyer to us asking us to do the same. Surely the town mayor has more weight with PSE&G then a few irate customers but we were too late, the mayor had washed her hands of it and we were on our own. That's what really bugs me with this whole situation. If that spreadsheet had been checked by the town, marking off each street properly as they came online, we would not have suffered for way too many days.
Lanre November 11, 2012 at 12:00 PM
First, PSE&G said that they'd get to my house on Wednesday. They failed to show up. Thursday, failed to show up. Friday, failed to show up and then had the nerve to say that they would restore our power LATEST MONDAY. The guy we talk to on the phone clearly does NOT pass this on to his employees, as I wouldn't be writing this comment if he did. PSE&G's internal communcations are so lacking. We've lost our power for 13 days now. Plus everyone on my street (including the guys who live right above my family; we live in a two-family home) has power BESIDES US. PSE&G are a massive JOKE and it's an ATROCITY that their president calls them heroes. Shame on you, PSE&G. If only people knew about other electricity restoration companies...
Lanre November 11, 2012 at 12:13 PM
BTW I live in Westfield.
Deborah Bell (Editor) November 11, 2012 at 12:17 PM
Lanre, if the guy who lives over you has power and you don't, that sounds like a spot issue. From what I gather, unless you called them AGAIN, they will think all the power in your area is on. You are what they refer to as a "straggler." As far as they can see, power is restored to your area. One person who may have a wire problem that only affects you, they don't see and can't know. So I know it's aggravating, but please, call them again.
Deborah Bell (Editor) November 11, 2012 at 12:21 PM
This is from PSE&G: Advice for customers: If your neighbors have had their power restored and you are still out, please call customer service at 1 800-436-7734. If our automated system indicates that power has been restored to your area and you have no power, please follow the prompts to place a new “no power” order. If the system states that your order already is registered, there is no need to place a new one. Unless customers call to report an outage, PSE&G may not know that there is still an issue at a particular location.
Jean Vitta November 11, 2012 at 12:31 PM
Part of the reason for the lack of up-to-date information is because none of the out-of-state linemen have the "smart" equipment PSEG employees use. They process all of their updates with written reports that have to be entered into the system at the end of the workday; work that they do simply doesn't show up until it's inputed into the system, LaRossa said. "We'll try to work on the technology," he added. try to work on the technology? Shouldn't that have been part of any planning? From the slow results and bad planning new technology to them will be dry erase boards instead of paper and pens
Jean Vitta November 11, 2012 at 12:33 PM
i was called "isolated incident" by jcpl. was going to be a month or two before repair to line. keep pressure on them
Skylar November 11, 2012 at 07:53 PM
PSE&G now saying Tuesday for our area in South Scotch Plains
Skylar November 11, 2012 at 08:55 PM
except that now they keep hanging up on us and refuse to give us a true ETA

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