Robbinsville Files Official Complaint Against JCP&L

Robbinsville Files Official Complaint Against JCP&L

Rep. Chris Smith Also Steps Up Oversight of Embattled Power Utility
ROBBINSVILLE TOWNSHIP - (August 24, 2020) - In the wake of his blistering testimony August 18 before the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee and the Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committees, Robbinsville Mayor Dave Fried has filed an official complaint against Jersey Central Power and Light with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU).
The hearing, chaired by D-14 Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo, was held via Zoom last week to take testimony from invited guests on electric public utility emergency response and restoration of services after major storm events, including Tropical Storm Isaias.

In the complaint, Robbinsville Township contends:

"Respondent Jersey Central Power & Light’s response to restoring power was not only substandard in the restoration process but also in communication to the Township of Robbinsville regarding the restoration of power" and ...

"Respondent Jersey Central Power & Light failed to be prepared for the storm and in other circumstance simple bad weather. In a prior agreement, Jersey Central Power & Light was to implement “improvements in its communication efforts with the officials of municipalities impacted by services outages.” This was not experienced by Robbinsville in the wake of Tropical Storm Isaias. In addition, "Township of Robbinsville and its residents did not suffer such inadequacies in service or communication in the portion of the Township serviced by Public Service Electic and Gas." 

Mayor Dave Fried, who filed a similar complaint against JCP&L after failures associated with Hurricane Irene in 2011, was the first of a handful of mayor to sound off against JCP&L. The mayor's pointed criticism was just as much about the poor level of communication as it was regarding response times following the surprising punch of Isaias.

“JCP&L promised they would improve communication (after Irene), and frankly I have not seen any improvement whatsoever," Mayor Fried said. "One Assemblyman talked about how JCP&L always comes in fourth (place) among the four power companies (testifying Wednesday before the Assembly). If there were 20 (companies), I have every confidence (JCP&L) would come in 20th. We do meet with them after every storm and nothing ever improves and the communications never gets any better."

Robbinsville does have the unique benefit of also being served by Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G), which continues to outperform its JCP&L counterparts in all phases of the restoration and communications game. Increasingly frustrated having to repeatedly explain to his constituents why half of them have power and the other half do not, the mayor simply wants a choice.

Regarding damages stemming from the filing, the Township of Robbinsville is seeking:

Substantial fines levied against JCP&L.
* Revocation of the public utility franchise for JCP&L and for the BPU to investigate having PSE&G serve as the sole utility provider in Robbinsville.

* If revocation of the franchise is not granted, require JCP&L to upgrade the infrastructure serving the Township as well as its communication plan.
* If the revocation of the franchise is not granted, require JCP&L to designate work crews to address outages located within the Township of Robbinsville.
* Require JCP&L to hold three open public meetings in the Township to allow for the public to provide comments on outages.
* Require JCP&L to place a public apology to the residents of and municipal government in the newspapers serving the Township of Robbinsville.
* For the BPU to create performance standards, inclusive but not limited to, measurements for response to outages and infrastructure maintenance.
* For all other damages, interest, costs of suit, and attorney fees, and such other relief as the BPU may deem just and equitable.

“My ask to the Assembly was for the towns being served by two utility companies to allow us to have a choice and switch to the one that is performing and remove those who are not performing," Mayor Fried added. "There’s no real reason for (JCP&L) to have such a large footprint if they cannot perform with the footprint they have. Perhaps if we can take away (some of that footprint) we can make it a little better for them and for some of the other communities they represent. Give us the ability to have some choices and to be able to work with the ones that are working. PSE&G did an exceptional job with this last storm. I just really think it’s time for us to make a change."


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