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January 9, 2013

RE: Follow Up on League Response to Sandy Issues and Concerns

Dear Mayor:

We wanted to provide you with a review of some of the ways the League has looked to assist our municipalities in the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy.

Through the month of November, we worked with State and Federal agencies to provide you with over 20 updates containing vital information for you, your residents and your local businesses. We established a webpage dedicated to Sandy updates. (http://www.njslom.org/hurricane-sandy.html)

 On November 28 we held our first seminar on Sandy response that featured timely presentations on FEMA programs, Corps of Engineers services, State OEM and Federal Small Business Administration assistance, property assessment and collection issues and municipal insurance matters.

In early December, when President Obama asked Congress to pass a supplemental Sandy relief funding bill, League President, Mayor Janice Mironov of East Windsor, and First Vice President, Mayor Suzanne Walters of Stone Harbor, immediately wrote to House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. That letter explained the needs of New Jersey municipalities and asked for expeditious action on the supplemental funding. We let our Congressional delegation know that they had our support on this. And we will continue to advocate for action on our needs.

On January 3, we hosted the first of several meetings with New Jersey energy utilities. Mayors of municipalities in the Jersey Central Power and Light Co. service area had two opportunities to meet JCP&L executives and with representatives of the Board of Public Utilities and the State Police. We have scheduled a meeting on January 22 that will allow Mayors in PSE&G areas the same opportunity.

Right after our meetings with JCP&L, hearing mayors’ comments and concerns, the company announced a series of new operational practices designed to provide municipal officials with additional information during major storms regarding power outage restoration efforts. These will include:

  • Providing municipalities with maps showing electrical circuit routes in their communities;
  • Locating JCP&L municipal liaisons in company field offices to maintain contact with local officials;
  • Hosting targeted teleconference briefings for municipal officials about localized restoration work;
  • Deploying additional company personnel to work with municipal representatives;
  • Training municipal and county responders on electrical safety; and
  • Participating in community advisory board meetings with local leaders and emergency agencies to outline the company’s restoration procedures.

JCP&L also promised to develop a number of technological enhancements to make it easier for customers to report outages and view the company’s Power Center maps and to receive outage and account information by text message or e-mail. Further improvements to the company’s 24/7 Power Center will provide a greater level of detail about power outages and make it easier for customers to find the information they need before, during and after a major storm.

We indicated at the forums with JCP&L that within 30 days we will meet with JCP&L and BPU representatives to follow up to ensure progress and timelines for implementation of these proposals.

On January 23, we will hold our second Sandy seminar.  That seminar will include presentations on utility response to the storm, environmental matters, public procurement, ratable loss and legal issues. You can find details for the seminar at http://www.njslom.org/seminar-documents/2013-0123-Sandy-part2.html.

We will give close consideration to S-2206/A-3255, the “Reliability, Preparedness and Storm Response Act,” which is legislation introduced in response to the storm. This legislation would require public utilities to file certain information concerning emergency preparedness with the Board of Public Utilities and increase penalties. We are also reviewing and monitoring other bills introduced regarding accountability by the utilities.

We will continue our efforts to assist in addressing the needs and comments of our Mayors, and will continue to keep you apprised of progress and opportunities.

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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