Monmouth County Officials Outraged Over JCP&L’s Performance [AUDIO]
Over twenty beleaguered Monmouth County Mayors of Monmouth County are making their displeasure towards Jersey Central Power and Light heard, and they want a solution.
The Third Annual Tinton Falls Snow Summit hosted by mayors Michael Skudera of Tinton Falls and Tony Fiore of Middletown, is an opportunity to discuss shared services, better use of technology, and ways to improve winter cleanup efforts.
However, this year's presentation and roundtable discussion focused specifically on suggestions for JCP&L to improve their service and communication practices after what many considered another failure during Hurricane Sandy. While JCP&L is a private company owned by Ohio based First Energy, Fiore says they hope their collective voice can put some pressure on the multimillion dollar utility company to act.
"We feel that if we can bring a collective voice together bring the action plan to them, and hold them accountable to that, then maybe that can effectuate change because clearly them bringing the action plan to the municipalities did not work."
Mayor Skudera's presentation highlighted the importance of not hosting a "gripe session" about JCP&L but rather presenting a concrete list of suggestions that can be presented to the utility and state legislators.
One of the issues had by town, county, and state officials in attendance was the inadequate communication between JCP&L and municipalities. Fiore was just one of the mayors to point out the frustration from residents who were left without power, and no idea the utilities progress. That created a situation where all the mayor's offices and township emergency management offices became the "call centers" for utility questions, but the mayors said they were given just as inadequate information as residents.
"They really keep us in the dark and give us a number that we can't hold them accountable to. No municipal mayor can plan on that."
Fiore laid out a list of points that need to be addressed, including:
· Institute Regional Calls for Mayors and government officials.
· How outages need to be addressed (many residents didn't know that outages needed to be called in)
· Better communication between JCP&L and Verizon
· Have a better knowledge of the power grid within the communities they are repairing
· Being open to using municipal resources when offered.
· Knowing what are priority areas.
· Towns need to know how the infrastructure was repaired, and how is it expected to fair in future storms.
One of the most outspoken mayors during the summit was Marlboro head Jon Hornik, who had major issues with line crews being completely unaware of the Township. His suggestion was to give municipalities control over where to deploy utility crews during times of emergency.
"We were using our public works and our police department to pull over line crews from out of state to have them work in town because we know which streets are out, we know which lines are down, and it was it the only way to get it restored."
Adding that they didn't create the "flawed system" however if JCP&L refuses to correct it, they should give municipalities the tools they need.
"Me waiting on a call with an executive from JCP&L who has no clue about what is going on in Marlboro Township, is completely not acceptable."
However, Long Branch mayor Adam Schneider was not as optimistic about the utilities willingness to change its practices.
"If JCP&L wanted to give us better service and better communication they would've done it. I didn't see any evidence that they care to do those things."
He says the changes have to go on a state level, but acknowledges there will be the same problems the next time there is a major storm.
"The fact is JCP&L chooses not to communicate with us, that has been their attitude from the beginning."