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Trenton Lawmakers Consider Utility Accountability Bill [VIDEO]


Stop blaming the divine or even Mother Nature for long and protracted power outages after severe weather events. 10th District Assemblyman Greg McGuckin believes electric utilities should bear some of the responsibility.

JCP+L crews work to make repairs in Freehold
JCP+L crews work to make repairs in Freehold (Dan Alexander, Townsqauare Media NJ)

That’s why he’s one of the sponsors of a bill aimed at getting them to do just that.

McGuckin says particularly in the shore area, he’s always had a hunch that that utilities weren’t keeping up with capital improvements to meet the demands of their growing customer base.

“These utility companies have a responsibility to restore power as soon as practicable and as soon as possible and what we learned was that some of these utility companies are relying on additional crews coming from, you know, Ohio.

McGuckin says ‘The Reliability, Preparedness and Storm Response Act of 2012′ (A3255/S2206)  would require utilities to provide an annual report on their emergency preparedness and what their plan would be for catastrophic storm events.

“This would require them to identify where they’re going to get additional personnel, how they’re going to assign that personnel. It also requires communications to be set up and how they’re going to communicate with the public, in the event for instance, of electricity being lost. How people can get updates as to when their power may be restored and that’s going to have to be filed each and every year with the BPU.”

McGuckin says the measure would also require utilities to meet a certain time frame for power restoration set by the BPU. He says failure to meet those standards could result in penalties from a $100 dollar daily assessment to $25,000 per event.

McGuckin says the important part of this legislation is that utility companies can not require the rate payers to pay any fines that are incurred because of their failure to meet the reliability standards that it set in place. Those fines and cost must come out of their profits and not from the rate payers.

Power outages caused by last year’s early snow event in October and Hurricane Irene in August were catalyst the measure.

Related Story: NJ Utility Companies Could Face Steep Fines for Power Delays

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