Returning the favor: N.J. utilities sending personnel to Fla. to assist

The heads of New Jersey’s largest utilities didn’t have to wait for Hurricane Irma to reach the United States before offering assistance.

Five years after facing the impact of Superstorm Sandy, they know firsthand the challenges their counterparts in Florida were going to be facing in their efforts to restore power in the state this week.

That’s why Public Service Electric & Gas, Jersey Central Power & Light and Atlantic City Electric all had crews headed south early Sunday morning.

PSE&G dispatched more than 150 employees to Lake City, Florida, to help Florida Power & Light restore service to customers expected to lose power from Hurricane Irma.

Atlantic City Electric sent more than 125 employees and contractors as part of mutual assistance networks coordinating recovery efforts.

And JCP&L sent more than 75 employees as part of a First Energy effort that included more than 900 employees nationwide.

Mutual assistance in times of trouble comes with the territory in the utilities sector.

When New Jersey was wrecked by Superstorm Sandy in October 2012, more than 3,700 linemen and support personal from as far away as Florida and even New Mexico came to help restore service.

Atlantic City Electric Region President Vince Maione said the effort is more than just paying it back, it’s doing the right thing.

“Crews from utilities across the country supported our response to Hurricane Sandy, and other major storms, and we are glad to return the favor,” Maione said.

“We are proud of our dedicated employees and contractors who are answering the call for help to support what is expected to be a monumental restoration effort.”

PSE&G said it expects crews to be in the state for as much as a month.