After Irene was finally done flooding roads and knocking out power a year ago, it pushed Jersey Central Power & Light to make it easier for residents to report outages.
The company now allows customers to report home and street light outages at its 24/7 Power Center on the company website, which can also be accessed through smart phones when outages leave residents without computer access, said Pete Johner, area manager for JCP&L customer and community relations in Central New Jersey.
"After Irene, there were a lot of issues with communication with this company," Johner said in a telephone interview on Wednesday. "So we've made a lot of communication changes. We enhanced the website, we have toll-free phone numbers in an electronic system people can call, and I'm going around meeting with municipal officials, nurturing relationships.
"We heard the politicians, as far as what they wanted," Johner continued, referring to officials relaying residents' complaints in Irene's dark, watery wake. "And we've made improvements. We're also working on infrastructure and system improvements on a daily basis."
Those using the website also can see how many other customers are without power, he added.
Irene had originally been a hurricane, but, as meterologists later announced, it was actually a tropical storm when it hit New Jersey. The summer storm left 750,000 New Jersey customers without power and, along with other recent storms and a lot of rain last year, heavily damaged JCP&L's infrastructure, Johner said.
"The company is working on infrastructure improvements on a daily basis, we're spending $200 million on it this year alone," he said.
To report home or street light outages by phone, call 888-544-4877.