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JCP&L Response to be Discussed at Next Bernards Committee Meeting

Mayor said residents have been weighing in through email, subject to be put on next meeting agenda.

The Bernards Township Committee is expected to discuss the subject of Jersey Central Power & Light's response after Hurricane Sandy at the committee's next scheduled meeting on Nov. 27.

Mayor Mary Pavlini said she will ask that the topic be put on the agenda that night — although the subject was sure to come up anyway.

"We will discuss how we want to proceed and move forward to deal with JCP&L," Pavlini said on Thursday night.

The mayor — who said she herself was without power for 14 days and was one of the township's last households to have power restored following the arrival of the hurricane on Oct. 29 — said a resident had emailed the township clerk that day asking how to file an opinion on JCP&L's performance.

"People need to voice their opinion," the mayor said. "People were frustrated and they have very strong feelings."

The state's legislators also will hold a meeting at the Bernards Township Library on Sunday, from 3 to 4 p.m. But Township Committeeman John Carpenter stressed that meeting is for information purpose in seeking recovery assistance, not a "gripe session."

Pavlini stressed that no decision or discussion has occurred yet on how to proceed with filing input on JCP&L's performance after Sandy since the Township Committee has not met since before the hurricane.

Pavlini added that she has been hearing from residents that other municipalities are starting efforts to revoke JCP&L's franchise in those towns. But she said she isn't sure how the state Board of Public Utilities, which regulates franchises for utilities in New Jersey, would respond to that suggestion.

And she noted that very strong winds had blown down numerous large trees in the area.

Pavlini said that township officials themselves were especially frustrated with communications between JCP&L's parent company, Ohio-based FirstEnergy Corp., and the crews on the streets that had been drawn in from multiple states. She said in some cases the home office was asking local officials to convey circuit numbers from individual locations.

A list of JCP&L's estimates for power restorations on individual streets didn't arrive until last weekend, Pavlini said, and that list included streets in Bernardsville. Bernardsville officials also have complained that JCP&L confused streets in the borough with roads in Bernards Township.

Further discussing the power restoration process, she noted that some of the hookups that have taken place to bring back power are temporary. Pavlini said she had that day run into crews from Alabama and New Mexico, but doesn't know how long such workers will be around working on restoring the local system.

Shirley Titus November 16, 2012 at 12:41 PM
Chester township has already started efforts to revoke JCP&L's franchise in their township. I am told residents are asked to sign a petition that is being circulated. Our township could do something similar. If the majority want JCP&L out, I am sure the state board will be forced to take action.
maryann.caballero@att.net November 16, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Time to fire JCPL! Competition is a beautiful thing. We need to figure out how to do it and DO IT! Our town can take a leadership role in the State and make it happen. Should be good public relations for any elected official to take do - Might even Get them RE-ELECTED!
Miriam Kotsonis November 16, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Having lived without power for 2 weeks and without information for nearly that long, I am no fan of JCP&L. Still, let's understand the specific shortcomings -- their internal communications -- their communications with us, their information and tracking systems, to make sure that any future solution doesn't just replace a so-so performer with another company that promises a lot but can't deliver in a crisis.
Carol Pena November 16, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Before taking any drastic action, I would like to understand from an independent investigation how JCP&L performed given the circumstances. i.e. Given the forecasts for the hurricane, did they prepare in a way that should have been adequate? Was their response to the situation fast and thorough enough? Even though most of us were without power for 1-2 weeks, there is the possibility that JCP&L's work was performed as fast as humanly possible given the magnitude of the devastation. I am not defending JCP&L, but I think there should be an official investigation into their preparation and response to find out if they were really negligent, or whether even the best power companies in the US would have been in the same boat and would have taken the same amount of time to restore our power. That would be my suggestion before we switch companies - perhaps a few towns from the area could cooperate to perform or fund such an investigation.
JaK November 16, 2012 at 10:51 PM
Carol this is good suggestion, although I believe investigation cost should be JCP&L's responsibility. They own the burden of justifying their performance. by the victims burdenlong the investigation does not cost
JaK November 16, 2012 at 10:53 PM
Sorry my above comment was submitted via my phone...

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