You don't need me telling you it's hot out there today.  Could you imagine no fans or air conditioners today?  Jersey Central Power and Light is assuring customers it's ready to meet all electric demands this summer.

Recently, the Ocean County Freeholders sent a letter to Governor Chris Christie about what they feel are high rates and a lack of reliable service based on what happened last August during and after Hurricane Irene.  The company has been under fire lately after a string of power failures.  However, JCP&L spokesman Ron Morano says they have spent millions of dollars on upgrades, have improved communication channels during the last year and are ready for any challenge that comes their way.

Morano says "we learned a lot from Hurricane Irene and you have to remember, it was an unprecedented situation for our area and for all of us.  We now offer a way for our customers to talk directly to us via the internet and even check where outages are and report their own."

So far this year, the utility has spent over $200 million dollars on various improvements.  Morano says a lot of planning went into the upgrades including a full analysis of high use areas like the shore tourism destinations.  In terms of the rates, he explains "our rates are still the lowest among the utilities regulated by the State Board of Public Utilities."

Some of the projects this year include new equipment at a substation in Tinton Falls, new equipment in Jackson Township to increase capacity, new wires and insulators in Neptune to prevent lightning strikes and other wire and backup upgrades.  JCP&L has also trimmed trees near their distribution lines to prevent downed wires during storms.

Morano adds "We’re investing enough in the system and are continuing to do so.  We believe the system that provides power to our customer is robust and will only get better.”

JCP&L is a subsidiary of Akron, Ohio-based FirstEnergy Corp.  They have about 1.1 million customers in 13 counties throughout central and north Jersey.