Letters to the Editor

The Aftermath of the Storm

The East Coast and Summit were hit by what many call a "100 year storm".   The City workers did a terrific job responding, but there remains great frustration on how much was out of our control and how long it took to address problems for far too many of our citizens. A recent Star Ledger article about Robbinsville NJ highlights the problem with JCP&L. Half the town was PSE&G half JCP&L. His quote, “It literally was like the Yankees playing a T-ball team---such an incredible difference I couldn’t believe it.”  JCP&L took longer to restore power but had an even bigger problem, communication.
 
Our local elected leaders tried valiantly to get the attention of the management of JCP&L. A conference call took place  a few days after the storm .  Our Assemblyman Jon Bramnick and Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz along with State Senator Tom Kean and Mayor Jordan Glatt held a conference call with the President of JCP&L in Summit City Council Chambers. Many surrounding Mayors, elected officials and citizens also attended. We left frustrated. Few answers were given. 
 
During the aftermath of the storm, I watched carefully - what worked, what didn’t. Our DPW, Fire Department and Police performed admirably. Problems were exacerbated by lack of a communications system to prioritize and deploy from the Utility. The City of Summit pays JCP&L well over a half million dollars a year for electricity to light our public buildings and streets.  This does not include the Board of Education.  Surprisingly, JCP&L has not assigned Summit an account manager.  Instead, when things go wrong we have an 800 number to call just like any residential account. In this high tech world where your dog can be located by a simple implanted chip, the utility doesn’t use telemetry. I think greater focus should be provided municipal accounts like Summit.  For instance, a single point person should be in charge of the drawings and schematics of our electrical grids, and a computer should be able to track what lines are down and prioritize repair. The lineman shouldn’t be calling the Mayor in the middle of the night for directions.
 
Was this a 100 year storm?  Let’s pray it never happens again but plan that it will. In the meantime City officials should plan on testifying before the BPU commission, the board that regulates the utilities. I plan on attending.
 
Ellen Dickson
Candidate for Mayor
 

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