DeLuca to PSE&G: Your System is Broken

In a Wednesday afternoon meeting with PSE&G's president, Essex County municipal leaders blasted the company for not living up to its promises after Hurricane Sandy.


Editor's note, 4:55p.m.: Mayor DeLuca asked that the following statement be added:

“I want to thank Governor Codey for calling the meeting and Ralph LaRossa for participating. This has been a difficult time for all of us and my frustration is not with Mr. LaRossa but with a system of communication and coordination between local governments and the utility company that I think needs a major overhaul. The article reflects my accounting of the meeting and any comments should not be attributed to Mr. LaRossa or any other meeting participant.” 

Maplewood's Mayor Vic DeLuca, South Orange Village President Alex Torpey and leaders of other Essex County municipalities devastated by Hurricane Sandy finally got to tell PSE&G -- in person -- what they thought of the utility company's performance.

The meeting, which was held in West Orange, was called by Former Governor Richard Codey; Assembly Members John McKeon and Mila Jasey also attended. 

PSE&G's President, Ralph LaRossa, attended, along with local representatives and the Vice President of Government Affairs.

"I laid into them about the lack of communication and coordination throughout the recovery," said DeLuca. "They have overpromised and underdelivered."

DeLuca, who spoke after the Mayor of Livingston, told LaRossa, "Your system is broken."

DeLuca said that Maplewood's Department of Public Works (DPW) is responsible for cleaning up trees and PSE&G is responsible for clearing downed wires, which has led to a "blame game" where the township has "no control" over when work crews are assigned and when work gets done.

"We still have trees down with wires on them," said DeLuca, "that we can't touch." In particular, he mentioned one situation on Van Ness Court that is affecting 88 apartments. The DPW is awaiting a call from PSE&G on when they can remove the tree.

Meanwhile, DeLuca said there was a "major" restoration of power Tuesday night to areas of Maplewood, leaving roughly 1,000 customers still to be restored, down from over 9,000 at the beginning of the storm.

DeLuca said that another "fairly substantial" number of residences should be restored today -- despite the Nor'easter pelting the region today and Thursday.

Currently, work is being done on Oakview, two blocks in from Prospect, and on Parker Road to replace power lines and install new poles.  That work is expected to take place today, said DeLuca. Roughly 50 customers are affected on Oakview, and a substantial number of people are affected on the Parker Road issue, including residents of Union, Warren, Essex, Garfield and Burr Road, as well as Clinton School.

"Most of the area above the Village is lit," DeLuca said, though there are some pockets still out. 

Torpey also spoke, said DeLuca, echoing much of DeLuca's assessment of the company's poor communication and also focusing on the need for smart technology and using social media to better communicate with customers.

"We gave it to them pretty good," said DeLuca, who noted that Codey, McKeon and Jasey were "right there with us."

DeLuca said he told LaRossa, referring to work crews: "I'm getting more information from people from Texas, Mississippi and Pennsylvania than from PSE&G. It's horrible."

ROSA FLOUNOY November 08, 2012 at 04:39 AM
All the utility companies (cable, PS&G, Verizon) will turn you off quick for nonpayment, but when there's a problem with your services customers have to wait for days to restore or fix the problems. What is wrong with this picture?
diane November 08, 2012 at 07:33 AM
I have lived in the Hilton area for 20 years and the only outage I ever experienced was last year with Irene and that lasted six hours. So ,yes I am yelling at PSE&G for their gross lack of honesty and abyssmal communication system. That being said ,Dom,I do plan to have a stand by generator system installed by the end of summer after all who am I to expect a public utility to perform their job competently.
KSSR November 08, 2012 at 01:18 PM
The problem is the flooding of their transmission and substation facilities. If they fix that so that it can't happen then they will be able to respond to downed wires the next day. We go to the moon but we can't engineer a solution to stop flooding at facilities? C'mon now PSE&G.
brandy meehan November 08, 2012 at 10:46 PM
This is BS, we have been out since 10/29 due to downed wires. Have called and provided specifics daily, not a single person has come out in 10 days!! Wellesley Street @ Burnett. I have lost hope that they will fix this. I want my life back!!
Duncan Rogers November 09, 2012 at 12:00 AM
What is inexcusable is PSEG reps telling people calling to report outages that they are not actually out. Their system was so effed up that they were telling people sitting in the cold and dark that their power was on. That's messed.


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