Utilities prep for massive East Coast blizzard

Utilities prepare crews and equipment ahead of what is anticipated to be one of the worst winter storms to hit the New York, New England East Coast region.

A severe blizzard warning has been issued for a 250-mile stretch of the Northeast, reports the AP. Officials from New Jersey to parts of Maine have issued warnings to residents to prepare for the worst as a potentially historic storm descends, threatening power outages, coastal flooding, and dangerous travel conditions.

"This could be a storm the likes of which we have never seen before," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a Sunday news conference, according to the AP.

East Coast utilities have been preparing crews and equipment to respond to anticipated power outages, with the approaching storm expected to bring up to of 3 feet of snow and wind gusts between 50 and of 75 mph in some areas. These conditions are likely to cause some interruption to service with the possibility of hefty winds and snow dense trees causing damage to power lines.

New York utility Con Edison, Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) and New England-based National grid were among the major East Coast utilities to issue press releases outlining monitoring and preparations ahead of the storm.  Each also provided timely safety tips for customers for dangers associated with severe winter storms such as downed power lines, damage to gas meters and carbon monoxide exposure.  

"JCP&L has activated our storm restoration plan and at this point has mobilized approximately 100 additional line personnel to assist with outage restoration efforts, if needed," said Tony Hurley, JCP&L vice president of Operations. 

“National Grid is mobilizing additional crews and equipment resources in the areas expected to be affected, and will have additional field and support personnel ready in the event of severe damage from snow, ice and flooding,” read a release on the National Grid website.

Meanwhile, utilities in the surrounding regions have also set in motion plans for emergency assistance to East Coast crews.  Michigan-based Consumers Energy announced Sunday that it was mobilizing more than 50 employees and an additional 100 contractors to travel early Monday to assist New York and New England energy providers.

"We are ready and willing to assist East Coast communities as they prepare for a storm that could cause significant damage," said Michele Kirkland, Consumers Energy vice president of energy operations. "We have been fortunate in the past to be helped by out-of-state crews, and with fair weather here in Michigan, this is an opportunity for us to help them."

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