December 16, 2011
RE: BPU Releases Preliminary Report on Power Company Performance
Late yesterday, the State’s Board of Public Utilities (BPU or the Board) issued a preliminary report on major storm event planning and emergency response by New Jersey’s four regulated Electric Distribution Companies (EDCs).
Following Hurricane Irene, and again after the October snow storm, the League received numerous reports of problems from mayors, trying to get information and answers from their ECDs. We contacted BPU President Lee Solomon, who immediately agreed to arrange meetings and conference calls with company executives. The preliminary report just released reflects issues discussed during those exchanges and similar concerns raised in state-wide public hearings convened by the Board.
We salute the many mayors and municipal emergency management officials who contributed to this effort.
The report calls for immediate action by the EDCs to improve communications, including the addition of staff during storm events to handle expected increased volume of calls, the use of social media to inform affected customers, and having a full communications plan approved by the BPU in advance.
Specifically, BPU recommends improvements in EDC communications with customers, municipal and county officials, as well as Office of Emergency Management (OEM) personnel; acquisition of supplemental crews; prioritization of service restoration; and infrastructure issues affected by vegetation management and substation flooding. In addition, the BPU report recommends the utilities adopt procedures to identify and prioritize service to special needs customers, such as those with medical issues and well water dependent customers.
In addition, the report recommends areas warranting further investigation by BPU staff with the assistance of a soon-to-be appointed consultant. That investigation will involve an in-depth study of EDC actions before, during and after these severe weather events, and result in recommendations for further reforms.
The preliminary report is available on the BPU’s website at: http://www.nj.gov/bpu/ .
Following the consultant’s report, the League, in conjunction with the BPU, plans on arranging additional meetings, to secure further local input. We will continue to keep you posted.
Very truly yours,
Hon. Art Ondish, William G. Dressel, Jr.,
President, NJLM and Executive Director
Mayor, Mount Arlington