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January 24, 2013

RE: BPU Order Mandates Timetable for Specific Utility Reforms

Dear Mayor:
Yesterday in Trenton, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) issued a comprehensive order directing New Jersey Electric Distribution Companies (EDCs) to take specific actions to improve their preparedness and responses to major storms. The Board approved 103 separate measures, based on recommendations contained in a report prepared by the Board’s consultant Emergency Preparedness Partnerships (EPP); recommendations provided by Board staff in the BPU Hurricane Irene Electric Response Report; and comments and recommendations made by municipal officials and others at numerous public hearings and in response to the above reports.

The 61 page Order, which can be accessed on our website at http://www.njslom.org/BPU-012313-order-storm.pdf, specifically cites the contributions of Mayor Katie Cole of Pompton Lakes, Mayor George Harper of Sandyston, Councilman Austin Ashley of New Milford, and the League of Municipalities.

In a public statement, League of Municipalities’ President, Mayor Janice Mironov of East Windsor Township, thanked BPU President Bob Hanna and his staff for their attention to municipal concerns and for advancing these new requirements.

When disasters hit and lives are disrupted by major storms like Sandy and Irene, citizens turn to their local leaders for information and for help in dealing with vital utility service outages. Deficiencies in utility preparation for and response to these emergencies led Mayors to unite in efforts to ensure better planning for future extreme weather events.

Under the leadership of Board of Public Utilities’ (BPU) President Hanna, New Jersey Mayors were given the opportunity to help shape the new BPU requirements. By establishing firm deadlines, the BPU order ensures that the utilities will make the needed reforms, quickly and responsibly.

The people of New Jersey will be assured of better service and a lot less uncertainty, because of today’s action. We appreciate the fact that utilities will now be required to provide local officials with daily updates concerning the number of customers out in their towns and the estimated number of customers that will be restored each day. The first such report will have to be provided after power has been out for 48 hours, and daily reports must continue until restoration is complete.

Further, utilities will be required to establish and maintain, for each municipality in their respective service territories, a separate webpage with information regarding number of customers served; a detailed description of the electric system serving the municipality; a link to the provider’s description of storm safety and preparedness information and general restoration processes and procedures.  During outages, each municipality’s webpage shall be updated, as the information becomes available, with the number and percentage of customers out of power; cause of the outages; damage assessment information; a description of the nature and timing of restoration efforts; and Estimated Time of Restoration (ETR).

Again, we commend President Hanna for his leadership. Implementation of the new requirements will significantly improve the utilities’ preparedness efforts; communications; restoration and response activities; and underlying infrastructure issues.

Very truly yours,

Janice S. Mironov, President
New Jersey State League of Municipalities,
Mayor, East Windsor Township

Timothy C. McDonough
Chairman, NJLM
Emergency Preparedness Committee,
Mayor, Hope Township

 

 

 

 

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