JAMESBURG: JCP&L offers tool to inform customers

Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) encouraged customers to use its new communication tools during the council meeting on Oct. 9.

By Amy Batista, Special Writer
JAMESBURG — Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) encouraged customers to use its new communication tools during the council meeting on Oct. 9.
   JCP&L has introduced two new technologies to make it easier for customers to get important information about their electric service on their computers or mobile devices.
   Gerald Ricciardi, area manager of community and customer relations for central New Jersey’s JCP&L, talked about the improvements the company is making to its communications during the first public comment session of the council meeting.
   According to Mr. Ricciardi, he has been representing Jamesburg for the last 12 years.
   ”Last year was kind of a rough year for everybody with the hurricane,” he said. “I just wanted to briefly update you on some improvements we’ve made to communications both to yourselves and to your residents so they can get more information in times of power outages.”
   ”Yourselves and any of your residents can sign up to get alerts about power outages,” Mr. Ricciardi said. “If we see some big weather events coming we can get those alerts out to your residents.”
   The alert and text messaging services are the latest additions to the company’s mobile technologies, he said.
   Earlier this year, the company launched smart phone apps for iPhone and Android devices and a website that is accessible by using a smartphone at www.firstenergycorp.com. Customers can view power outages, photos and videos on the website.
   ”I signed up myself,” Mr. Ricciardi said, adding that it took him around eight minutes to register.
   The new alert service allows customers to register for automated email or text message notifications regarding power outages, severe weather alerts, billing reminders and meter reading dates. The alert preferences can be updated at any time.
   ”It is specifically about (the customer’s) account,” Mr. Ricciardi said in reference to meter readings and account balances that can be sent. “It is password protected.”
   Customers can learn more about registering for the alerts at www.firstenergycorp.com/connect or start receiving the alerts by texting REG to 544487 (LIGHTS).
   The alert and text message services are provided free of charge to customers, but some mobile carriers may charge fees for sending and receiving text messages or using data services.
   Customers should contact their carrier for more details about message and data rates.
   Mr. Ricciardi also talked about the 24/7 Power Center outage maps on the website.
   ”It’s represented as a map of New Jersey,” Mr. Ricciardi said as he held up the paper to show council members.
   According to Mr. Ricciardi, there will be “little triangles” that will identify where the outages are occurring and updates on restoration.
   ”When you look at this, if you can see the triangles on this copy that I gave to you, each triangle represents an individual outage,” Mr. Ricciardi said adding you can zoom in on the map until you get to Middlesex County and to Jamesburg.
   ”Each individual outage in Jamesburg will be identified by a triangle, will give a range of customers saying how many people are affected by that outage, then after we get it assessed we will give an estimated time of restoration for that particular outage,” Mr. Ricciardi said.
   Mr. Ricciardi said there are new enhancements to his company’s website, the MyTown website.
   ”That is an additional link for your town,” Mr. Ricciardi said. “When you click on MyTown it will take you to a list of all the counties. Of course, you click on Middlesex then you click on Jamesburg and that will give you specific information about Jamesburg.”
   According to Mr. Ricciardi, the website provides information on how many utility poles are in the area, how many substations service Jamesburg, and more. There are four substations, four circuits, 424 utility poles and 11 miles of distribution lines, according to the website.
   There are 2,802 customers served.
   ”Also what we started doing is in the last three to four weeks, we are starting to send emails out to what we call our Storm Communications people,” Mr. Ricciardi said. “In most towns that consist of the mayor, the administrator, the police chief, and if the OEM (Office of Emergency Management) Coordinator is not the police chief, that person, whenever there is a circuit block out,” Mr. Ricciardi said.
   According to Mr. Ricciardi, county lists are being sent out which will list if there is a power outage so everyone can see it that is affecting a part of the county.
   Mr. Ricciardi mentioned the power outage that happened in the town on Sept. 29 which was closer to East Windsor border in which 2,500 customers were affected and how the process works in notifying people through emails.
   ”I send out those messages,” Mr. Ricciardi said. “The first message will say basically I know there is a circuit block out and crews in route. The second email basically said crews are on site isolating the damage and we expect restoration time around noontime. Then right around noontime all the power came back on. I sent the third email to say that all power has been restored.”
   ”We realize that your residents they are going see you in different places and they are going to call you,” Mr. Ricciardi said. “They should be calling us but they call you guys too so we are just trying to get as much information as we can out to our public officials.”
   ”That’s great,” said Mayor Marlene Lowande. “We will make sure our Borough page gets this information.”