Irate JCP&L Customers Complain About Irene Hurricane and Aftermath

Source: NJ.com

Angry customers shared their voice about the lack of communication with homeowners during the aftermath of power-outages in New Jersey during the state hearing in Monmouth County yesterday. The Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) seemed to be the brunt of the irate customer complaints – and all they wanted was to know when to expect power to be turned back on.

JCP&L’s territory was hit the hardest by Irene, with 45 miles of downed wire, 400 fallen poles, and 670,000 outages from a total of 1.1 million customers.

“Hurricane Irene was just the straw that broke the camel’s back after 26 years,” said Joyce Stapleton of Freehold Borough, describing years of outage problems in extreme weather and normal weather. “In 2010, we lost power eight times. In 26 years that I’ve lived there, our half of the block loses power, and the other half doesn’t.”

Another Freehold resident, Robert Taylor, agreed.

“JCP&L has had a lot of history (of outages) not as severe as this last one, but they have a lot,” Taylor said. “You’re looking at almost 20 years of winter outages, spring outages.”

The lack of communication, though, was the biggest complaint.

“I would like the board to communicate with (JCP&L parent company) FirstEnergy in the language they understand: the language of money withheld and rates reduced due to substandard performance,” said Anthony Cooper of Holmdel.

A dozen JCP&L officials attended the hearing, and in some cases met with critics one-on-one to get more information.

“Were there issues that we need to address? Absolutely,” said JCP&L spokesman Ron Morano. “(JCP&L president) Don Lynch has committed to resolve the issues and do things better. We’re fully committed to that.”

Marlboro Mayor Jonathan Hornik said none of his residents could get information on when power would be restored.

Marlboro Mayor Jonathan Hornik was also in attendance, and stated: “My residents were screaming, and you know what? They had every right to scream. This was a Category 1 hurricane. God forbid we ever have a Category 3 hurricane. We would be out for months.”

NJ Board of Public Utilities Hurricane Irene hearing, 9-26-11. NJ Board of Public Utilities Hurricane Irene hearing, 9-26-11. The NJ Board of Public Utilities held the first of two meetings they will hold in the state to solicit public comments regarding the performance of the local electric distribution companies prior to, during and after Hurricane Irene. The hearing was held at the Monmouth County Library in Manalapan. More than 1.5 million homes and businesses lost power at the height of the storm.

After the storm passed on Aug. 28, outage numbers were epic: within a day, the toll had risen over 1 million customers from all electric companies in New Jersey, and rising floodwaters impeded repairs.

Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G) had a higher number of customers without power, but a smaller percentage, and greater manpower to throw at the problem.

The third day after the storm, Wednesday, PSE&G had 6,000 employees and out-of-state crews working to restore power. JCP&L had 1,700 on the ground on that day, a number that would rise in the coming days as more help came in.

Nevertheless, five days after the storm, PSE&G had restored power to all but 2,500 customers, while JCP&L still had 46,000 customers without power.

The public hearings, yesterday in Manalapan and today at Morris County Public Safety Training Academy from 4 to 7 p.m., are just one part of the BPU’s investigation. After public comments are gathered, the BPU can start formal hearings.

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We heard from many homeowners and businesses during the aftermath of the hurricane, and we’re happy that we were able to help you feel secure in knowing that we were hard at work to help you. If you have any questions about your New Jersey homeowners insurance or flood insurance, please contact us today at 973-334-7100.

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