Lawmaker wants restoring public utilities in rural areas to be a top priority

Lawmaker wants restoring public utilities in rural areas to be a top priority

TRENTON, N.J. –The lengthy process of restoring public utilities after a major storm has been an issue plaguing rural residents for quite some time. Assemblyman Ron Dancer wants to ensure rural areas are given the same level of priority as the rest of the state and has introduced two bills speed up restoration after thunderstorms, snowstorms, and other major events.

The first bill (A4761) would give public utilities and cable television companies the ability to use drones to survey damaged infrastructure.

“Drones are a powerful tool in assessing damage and assisting with repairs after a major storm,” said Dancer (R-Ocean). “Other states have allowed utility companies to use drones with much success. We cannot afford to continue to have slow restoration times, so it makes sense to allow the utility companies to use drones to speed up the process.”

Dancer’s second bill (A4763) would require the Board of Public Utilities to create new regulations to require that electric companies prioritize communities where at least 40 percent of residents rely on private wells for drinking water and septic systems for sanitary disposal of waste. Additionally, watering stations would also be required.

“Many people do not realize when a home in a rural area loses power, they often lose access to drinking water, as well as, flushing and refilling toilets,” said Dancer. “A priority restoration plan must be put into place to avoid leaving rural areas without access to their basic life essential necessities. When people are without basic necessities for days, it could lead to major public health and safety issues.”