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New Jersey utility caves to pressure for change

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Officials along the East Coast are calling for changes in the way utilities handle storm preparation, outage restoration and recovery. In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, at least one utility has changed its operations.

Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) has made enhancements based on feedback from customers and municipal officials following Superstorm Sandy that will provide additional information to municipal officials and customers about power outage restoration efforts during significant storm events.

Enhancements include providing municipalities with maps showing electrical circuit routes; determining liaisons in company field offices to maintain contact with local officials; holding briefings for municipal officials about localized restoration work; allocating additional company personnel to work with municipal representatives; training county and municipal first responders on electrical safety; and participating in advisory board meetings with county and municipal leaders and emergency agencies to outline the company's restoration procedures.

In addition, JCP&L is developing mobile technology tools so customers can report outages and access important information. Similar to the company's new mobile website, one new app that can be downloaded to Apple or Android smartphones will make it easier for customers to report a power outage and view the company's 24/7 Power Center maps. Improvements also are being made this Power Center, including a greater level of outage detail and redesigned content to make it easier for customers to locate the information they need before, during and after a major storm.

Under development at JCP&L, and to be released in late 2013, are ways that will allow customers to receive outage or account information via text message or email.

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