More than three days after Tropical Storm Isaias crossed the state Tuesday, more than 60,000 families in Morris County are still without power today.
Senator Pennacchio called for legislative action on his Reliability, Preparedness, and Storm Response Act bill and urged utility company leadership to step up efforts to prevent repeated storm-related power outages. (SenateNJ.com)
“It’s frustrating for everyone. If you are without lights, refrigeration and air conditioning or fans, every passing hour is excruciating,” said Senator Joe Pennacchio. “We all appreciate the work of the linemen who are working around the clock to restore power. We’ve had a good relationship with the regional liaisons who have been responsible and helpful, but utility company leadership needs to have a better plan. New Jersey’s utilities must be more proactive to prevent massive outages and strengthen the grid State residents depend on.”
Pennacchio is a prime sponsor of legislation (S-634), entitled the Reliability, Preparedness, and Storm Response Act, that would require public utilities to file certain information concerning emergency preparedness with BPU and increases certain penalties. He has been advocating for the initiative since Superstorm Sandy.
In an earlier legislative session, the Assembly version (A-2426) was passed unanimously. It was amended in the Senate in June 2019, but stalled in the upper house.
“Once again, a severe storm and a huge power outage is a reminder of the need for the legislature to move this bipartisan bill,” said Pennacchio. “In New Jersey, there’s always another storm on the horizon, and people are frustrated by repeated interruption of their electrical service.”
The bill would require every electric public utility to file an emergency response plan with the BPU, which is to reflect the performance benchmarks established by the BPU. It also increases maximum civil penalties for violating rules from an insignificant $100 per day to $25,000 per day for each violation.
Pennacchio joined the members of the Senate Republican caucus in a letter to New Jersey Board of Public Utilities President Joseph Fiordaliso calling for bolstering the resilience of the State’s electrical power grid, and formulating comprehensive plans for emergency responses in the future.
“We wouldn’t have as many homes in the dark if leadership at the top of these utility companies worked as hard as the crews clearing downed trees and limbs and repairing damaged wires and transformers,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “When a major weather event is closing in on our state, residents dread the inevitable outages that will follow. With all the money invested in a more robust electrical grid, rate payers deserve a much better improved system.”