BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ Last month's invite to Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) to attend a public forum in Bernards Township to explain power outages after Tropical Storm Isaias _ and sometimes even in calm weather _ has recieved no answer thus far, Township Mayor James Baldassare said this week.
The Bernards Township Committee also followed up the mayor's direct invitation with a request that the state Board of Public Utilities look into the power company's response to the storm and try to get to the reason for persistent power outages.
Along with inviting JCP&L to town hall, the Township Committee also approved a resolution on Aug. 25 asking the state Board of Public Utility to hold hearings on JCP&L’s response to the Aug. 4 storm "to solicit public comment and, following such hearings, to take the appropriate action as the BPU may be authorized by state law and regulations."
Issue due to come up again at Sept. 15 Township Committee meeting
Baldassare added he believes the township had not heard back from the state regulators either. He said he expects the issue will come up again at the next scheduled Bernards Township Committee meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 15.
The Aug. 25 resolution points to the extensive power outages throughout Bernards Township, and elsewhere in New Jersey, following the brief but powerful tropical storm, after which many residents were without electricity for up to about a week. "It is clear to the Township Committee and residents of the township that the infrastructure that JCP&L was charged to maintain - utility poles, transformers substations and wiring, often failed, demonstrating that the utility was unprepared for Tropical Storm Isaias despite the claim that the infrastructure had been upgraded," the resolution states.
A few weeks earlier, Baldassare had announced at the Aug. 11 Township Committee that he would invite a JCP&L representative to a public meeting within the next few weeks to answer residents' questions about the power company's response to Tropical Storm Isaias.
Baldassare said he would contact the township's JCP&L representative within about a week to try to set a date for a public meeting at which residents and the Township Committee could ask questions and provide feedback to the utility provider.
Before JCP&L's anticipated appearance, Baldassare has asked residents to submit their questions to the Township Committee email, which is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The township already has posted a notice on the Bernards Township website and invited any residents with any questions, concerns or complaints or further wishes to share their comments _ either positive or negative _ with the state Board of Public Utilities (BPU) share any comments whether positive or negative, should contact the Board of Public Utilities (BPU), he added.
"This will ensure the BPU is also aware of the issues that are important to our community with regard to the main power outage caused by Isaias and also the power outages that happen regularly with seemingly no reason (nice sunny days) during and throughout the year," Baldassare said in an email.
Additionally, the same comments can be submitted the BPU's Division of Customer Assistance, which handles verbal, written and e-mail complaints as well as in-person office interviews and other information inquiries. That link is at www.bpu.state.nj.us.
The Aug. 25 resolution added that "the Township Committee finds that JCP&L failed to provide that service in the length of time it took to restore the Township to full power."
"Considering the burden the loss of electricity has caused township residents, the Township Committee opposes any service rate increase and calls upon the Division of Rate Counsel to oppose the rate increase on behalf of township residents," the resolution notes.