The Maplewood Township Committee recently adopted a resolution recommending the state Board of Public Utilities (BPU) and the state Legislature conduct an investigation into how PSE&G responds to extreme power outages.
The council unanimously adopted the resolution at its Nov. 20 meeting; it was recently memorialized by the township's attorney.
Modeled after a similar measure recently passed by the South Orange Board of Trustees in the wake of prolonged power outages caused by Hurricane Sandy, Maplewood's resolution calls for the BPU and the Legislature to investigate "how PSE&G manages information, communicates and prepares and responds to extreme power outages," and recommends the state use legislative action to compel public utilities to adopt recommendations that come out of the investigation.
(The full resolution is attached to this article as a PDF).
The resolution notes more than 12,000 township residents and businesses were without power -- some for up to 13 days -- causing severe economic impact as well as affecting residents' "physical and emotional well-being."
Township officials expressed frustration with PSE&G's poor communication of information after the storm. South Orange Village President Alex Torpey and leaders of other Essex County municipalities devastated by Hurricane Sandy, DeLuca told PSE&G President Ralph LaRossa, "Your system is broken."
DeLuca said he thought the utility had "overpromised and underdelivered" and the system of communication and coordination between local governments and the utility company was in need of a "major overhaul."
The resolution specifies certain areas of concern, including a lack of reliable information regarding restoration timelines and an outdated information management system that led to reports of power being restored when it hadn't.
Suggestions for improvement include that utilities should:
- provide a spokesperson to handle customer complaints and provide information in person in the municipal building
- provide twice daily detailed reports to government officials
- set stronger standards for accuracy and timeliness of information
- improve the process by which they assign repair crews.