As the named Nor'easter Athena slams into central Jersey, PSEG said they're doing everything they can to get the lights back on. As of a 6 pm update, the utility said that the nor'easter has caused an additional 60,000 power outages statewide.
That number, the update said, is expected to increase as strong winds arrive with the storm tonight.
Linemen can work in the rain, said PSEG spokeswoman Rena Esposito. But the high winds make it dangerous for them to work in bucket trucks they use to complete work on elevated wires. Federal law prohibits work in the trucks in winds greater than 40 mph.
Since Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey last week and caused massive power failures, more than 4,000 out-of-state workers in addition to 700 PSE&G technicians have been working to restore electric service, the utility said in the update.
The text of the PSEG update is as follows:
- Outages: The number of outages due to Hurricane Sandy is about 181,000. The number of additional outages due to the winter storm named Athena is approximately 60,000 statewide and will undoubtedly climb once the expected high winds arrive later tonight.
- PSE&G expects to continue to restore customers still impacted by Hurricane Sandy as well as respond to outages caused by tonight’s wind and rain.
- While work may continue in the rain, federal safety rules prevent line crews from working in bucket trucks when winds are greater than 40 mph. Crews will resume work when it is safe to do so. There are more than 4,000 out-of-state workers in addition to 700 PSE&G technicians working to restore power.
- When repairing damaged lines in an area, we may need to take a line out of service temporarily for safety reasons. Power will be restored as soon as it is safe to do so. We ask for customers’ understanding when this occurs.
- Customers may see a variety of vehicles at various damage locations. These trucks are staffed with standby personnel, gas workers, meter readers, and support people who are assisting the restoration effort by keeping the public away from downed wires and other electrical equipment while line crews are making repairs at other locations.
- There currently is no shortage of materials. However, this is an incredible restoration job so we continue to seek materials so we can be covered in case the damage in some areas turns out to be greater than anticipated. FEMA has offered to get materials for us and we will take advantage of that offer.
- Crews are working 16-hour days, with mandated rest periods and meal breaks.
- PSE&G has secured an additional 600 line workers who are being redirected from Pennsylvania, bringing the total to more than 4,600 workers on the ground helping restore power to our customers.
- Since the start of the storm, PSE&G call centers have handled more than 1.9 million calls (more than 12 times the normal volume). We have suspended non-emergency work so that more workers are available to respond to customer calls.