TRENTON, N.J. – One week after Tropical Storm Isaias hit, thousands of New Jersey residents are still in the dark. At the peak of Tuesday’s storm, over 1.4 million people were in the dark, and there were still about 5,340 Garden State residents without power Monday morning.
“This is far from the first time utilities have had trouble restoring power after a major outage,” explained Assemblyman Christopher DePhillips (R-Bergen).
DePhillips, a member of the Assembly’s Telecommunications and Utilities Committee, introduced a storm response bill two years ago after a powerful nor’easter left more than 230,000 residents without power.
“There’s no excuse for chronic incompetence,” said DePhillips. “Keeping the lights on isn’t rocket science. People should be confident they’ll have heat or AC regardless of the weather. We are putting utilities on notice. Mayors will be able to look elsewhere for more responsive, efficient service.”
The measure (A108) allows towns to revoke a utility’s franchise for poor service, limits franchise contracts to seven years, and increases penalties from $100 up to $25,000 per day for violating BPU rules and regulations.
The Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee unanimously advanced the bill last session, but it was not brought before the full Assembly for passage.
Last week, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin announced that two committees – the Telecommunications and Utilities Committee and State Preparedness Committee – would hold a hearing to scrutinize utility companies’ response to massive power outages.