Millburn officials will explore all power utility options because the lack of communication between the township and Jersey Central Power and Light, Mayor Sandra Haimoff said at Tuesday night's committee meeting.
"We need to get all the towns in New Jersey that subscribe to JCP&L together to ask the state legislature, Senate and Assembly, to take action against the Board of Power and Utilities, First Energy and JCP&L," Haimoff said.
During power restoration, the electric company assigned a contact person to provide the township with information after multiple complaints, the committee explained. However, the contact only provided little or inaccurate information, according to the mayor.
"We were as frustrated as all of our residents who were calling Jersey Central Power and Light as there was no information that he could give us," Haimoff said. "We need an electric company based in New Jersey, not in Ohio. We will be looking at any and and all possibilities."
To improve township communication, Millburn will launch its block captain program throughout town, where appointed residents report issues to township officials. According to the mayor, this program started successfully after tropical storm Irene for high flood areas in South Mountain neighborhoods.
"We have to help ourselves," Haimoff said.
After most were in the dark for nearly two week, residents voiced their issues with the power company to the committee.
"I think that JCP&L knows exactly where they stand with what they have to do and what they don't have to do," one Millburn resident, Rod Shinners, said. "They're a corporation that's only interested in making money for its stock holders."
Some also offered suggestions the township could research to prevent extended power outages in the future. Some ideas proposed were:
- Underground power lines
- A private power company, modeled after Madison
- Evaluating tree locations
- Removing larger trees that may cause damage and planting a new tree
- Become more liberal with tree trimming around power lines
A few other residents said the township's communication was also lacking during the storm. They requested for more information on road closures, debris clean up and possible shelter in town.
What do you think the committee should do after the township's most recent issues with JCP&L? Share your opinion in the comments below!
In September of last year, the mayor said she attended a closed hearing on JCP&L and suggested the following actions for better communication:
- A liaison should be assigned to the Essex County Emergency Operations.
- Once a line is de-energized, this information should be communicated to public safety officials in the town so that debris can be removed, streets re-opened and trees cut.
- Someone should be able to tell us which streets and/or houses are without power.
- There should be a regional municipal liaison so several municipalities could coordinate with this individual to identify the areas where lines were de-energized and where power was restored.
- Automated phone calls sent to customers when power is restored ask for a call back. A person without power may not even receive this call.
- Local officials should receive adequate information so they can respond intelligently to the numerous residents who reach out to them.
- There should be pre-storm planning.
- There should be communication and planning to prepare for the aftermath.
- We need a system by which each town can get immediate detailed and consistent information.