New Jersey's 24th Legislative District

Senator Steven Oroho

Senator Steve Oroho

Lawmakers Welcome BPU Hearing Allowing Residents to Voice Frustrations About Poor Response to Snowstorms

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Sen. Steve Oroho and Assemblymen Parker Space and Harold J. Wirths lauded the Board of Public Utilities first hearing on JCP&L’s poor response to chronic and prolonged outages, saying it’s important for the agency to hear firsthand from the people who were most affected.

Sen. Steve Oroho, Asm. Parker Space, and Asm. Harold J. Wirths lauded today’s Board of Public Utilities first hearing on JCP&L’s poor response to chronic and prolonged outages. (SenateNJ.com)

A series of nor’easters left 40,000 homes and businesses without power for days in Sussex and Warren counties last month.

“I appreciate the Board of Public Utilities holding public hearings allowing customers to directly express their experiences, frustrations, and concerns following the most recent power outage events,” Oroho (R-24) said. “Lessons were learned from prior outages and protocols put in place to mitigate the outage, but clearly much, much, more can be done to most efficiently and expeditiously get power restored.  We will do all we can to help address any and all actions that will lessen the time people are without power or other utilities.”

“It’s important for our constituents to attend these hearings and let their voices be heard,” Space (R-24). “My colleagues and I will continue to push legislation ensuring utility companies have comprehensive storm protocols in place to prevent such poor response in the future. Residents should not have to hold their breath every time a severe storm is predicted. They deserve much better and it’s time JCP&L delivered.”

Oroho sponsors S-719/889/2221 which will improve utility reliability, storm preparedness and accountability. Space and Wirths sponsor the Assembly version, A-716. The Senate Economic Growth Committee advanced the measure today.

“It’s unfathomable that JCP&L does nothing but offer excuses for its dismal storm response,” Wirths said. “The utility needs a reliable emergency preparedness plan it actually follows. JCP&L and every utility company must be held accountable, and we are prepared to do just that. Resident input is an important part of BPU’s investigation. I’m glad people are taking the time to come out and make their concerns known.”

Oroho, Space and Wirths were in direct contact with BPU, the Governor’s office, and JCP&L senior management throughout the outages until power was restored.

The lawmakers said the investigation must include tree and vegetation management, manpower on site prior to the start of an event, including personnel permanently stationed in New Jersey; and better utilization of local knowledge with local emergency management personnel and other local officials to help out-of-area crews get to their work sites as quickly as safely possible.

“We certainly appreciate and thank the thousands of men and women who spent days away from their families to help our families,” Oroho concluded. “Obviously more lessons will and must be learned from these recent events so we can minimize this as much as possible for customers who lose power.”

Today’s hearing, the first of five as part of BPU’s investigation of the utilities’ response and preparedness, was held at the Byram Intermediate School in Byram.

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