Councilperson Stein's tough guy message really got through to the power utility. Yessirree, he sure got things fixed in a hurry.
FirstEnergy's Illuminating Co. shuts off power to homes for scheduled maintenance on coldest day of year
CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio -- Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co. crews cut the power to a Cleveland Heights neighborhood for several hours Tuesday for maintenance and tree trimming despite the low temperatures.
Todd Schneider, a spokesman for FirstEnergy which owns the Illuminating Co., said only 20 residents were effected. He said the work had to be done for public safety.
He said all of the customers had been notified of the company's plans on Sunday night with an automated phone call.
That computer call stated that trees had to be trimmed and the power outage would last about three hours.
But the call also noted that the work would be postponed a day "in the event of inclement weather."
With winds gusting to 40 miles per hour and temperatures topping out at 10 degrees, most residents figured the weather was inclement.
And with schools closed and children at home, some Cumberland Road residents were furious, especially when they called the company's automated line to report the power failure - and received a similar message about "scheduled equipment maintenance."
"It seems strange that they would do that work in this kind of weather, given that all heating types require power and given that the schools are out," said resident John Marsh, who added he had not received a warning call over the weekend.
Marsh said he could see power company and tree trimming trucks down the street as well as what appeared to be freshly cut branches.
Residents lost power about 11:30 a.m. It did not come back on until 2:24 p.m.
Schneider said completing the work despite the harsh conditions was "a matter of public safety."
"We had a line snarled up in a tree. It was causing customers' power to fluctuate, and we wanted to correct the problem to prevent further damage to our system or to a customer's property," he said. "We had to remove the tree branches and replace the wire. This was in a rear lot."
Electric Grid, Cleveland Heights and First Energy’s Commitment to Improve
I am pleased that First Energy Corporation took my letter to Anthony Alexander, its CEO, on November 7, 2012 seriously. In that letter, I questioned First Energy’s preparations and criticized their lack of communication during and after Hurricane Sandy left thousands of Cleveland Heights residents without power for days.
On November 26, John Skory, president CEI/FirstEnergy, responded to my letter and subsequently set up a meeting at City Hall to discuss Mayor Kelley's and my concerns as well as longstanding issues with the Cleveland Heights electrical grid. On Monday, December 3, Mayor Ed Kelley and I had a productive meeting with Mr. Skory and First Energy’s External Affairs Manager, Terry Killeen.
Mr. Skory made a strong commitment to improve First Energy’s storm preparation and management, as well as reduce the non-storm related power outages that occur in the City.
- He asked that we give him an opportunity to show that positive changes will be made. He will return in a month to share a plan for the City’s power grid with a detailed map that will identify problem areas and offer resolutions to these problems.
- First Energy will have dedicated crews in Cleveland Heights that will be here during a storm and will not leave until the storm is over and all power has been restored.
- First Energy will have conference calls with Cleveland Heights City Hall prior to a major storm to keep us informed and able to respond to residents’ concerns.
I am hopeful that from the unfortunate mismanagement of the storm will now come a positive outcome for all residents and businesses of Cleveland Heights with improvements to our electrical grid and services across the entire City.
Superstorm Sandy: What Grade Would You Give FirstEnergy?
Cleveland Heights City Council member Jason Stein wrote a letter to the president and CEO of FirstEnergy and says the company should have been more prepared for Superstorm Sandy in Northeast Ohio. Mayor Ed Kelley gave the company a D minus.
This does not include the crews who came out to Cleveland Heights to help restore power — he'd give them an A plus. But Kelley isn't happy with the way FirstEnergy managed crews or information. He said local employees were sent to the east coast though they knew Northeast Ohio would be hit hard, and residents didn't have information about when their power would come back.
Nearly 9,000 Cleveland Heights FirstEnergy customers, more than 40 percent of those they serve in the city, lost power at some point. Power was restored throughout the week, but some residents were in the dark without heat for five days or more.
FirstEnergy said power should be restored for most Northeast Ohioans by the end of the week, but did not explain if that meant the business week or Sunday or which communities would see relief first. Thursday they posted more detailed information about when specific suburbs and communities would have power back, but Cleveland Heights wasn't on the list.
By Friday, more than 7,000 had their power restored, but close to 1,300 were still waiting for electricity.
Councilman Jason Stein read a letter during the meeting that he plans to send to Anthony Alexander, FirstEnergy president and CEO, today.
"FirstEnergy and Cleveland area residents were notified in advance that this storm was coming and that the results would very likely leave damage caused by rain and wind gusts near hurricane strength. With this advanced notice, FirstEnergy made a corporate choice to send 200 local lineman and almost half of their local support staff to sister companies on the East Coast. The results of this poor decision left First Energy undermanned and incapable of restoring power to the residents of Northeast Ohio in a reasonable amount of time," Stein said.
"Of course, we all share in the concern for those on the East Coast that have and continue to suffer from the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. However, to transfer necessary resources from your local disaster area to a distant disaster area is ridiculous," he said.
The full letter is included in the PDFs section of this article.