PSE&G offered the following answers to frequently asked questions:
Q. Why are my neighbors back and I’m not?
A. Homes very near to each other can be fed from different circuits. One of them may be damaged and not the other. It’s also possible that one part of a circuit is damaged while other sections are not. Circuits from a station usually have two sections. If one section is damaged, we can open a breaker to stop the flow of electricity to that section while keeping the other section in service.
Q. I hardly ever lose power. Why am I out now?
A. These are conditions we haven’t experienced in decades. Damage to switching stations, the backbone of the system, was extensive, and there were unusual amounts of damage to the transmission lines that bring power to the distribution system. If there is no power to their feeder station then their particular circuit will have no power. This storm also took an unusually high number of trees down, greatly increasing the number of customers affected and the amount of time it takes to bring power back.
Q. Why don’t I see anyone working on this?
A. We have to fix the transmission and substation issues first, or no power will flow to the circuits that serve you. Much of the work that goes into getting your power back is done out of sight. We have unprecedented amounts of tree damage that caused many circuit faults. Once we have transmission and substations restored, we prioritize jobs that involve critical infrastructure (such as hospitals and police stations) and those that have the most number of customers affected. With damage this severe, it is taking time but we are working our way through that process.
Q. Why don’t you know when my power will be back?
A. Under normal circumstances we know how long it takes to respond to reports of problems and restore service. This is not your average storm. Hurricane Sandy has caused twice the damage as Hurricane Irene. This means that even assessing the damage is slow, with new information constantly filling in the picture of the conditions that need to be addressed. We’ve also continued to bring additional out-of-state crews to help, and move them around to the areas they are needed most.