Storm response report finds fault with utility communications

TRENTON – The state’s performance review of utilities’ 2011 storm response found room for improvement in communications with officials and the public.

The report, which builds on a December 2011 preliminary report into how utilities handled power outages related to last summer’s hurricane and last October’s snowstorm, said, among other things:

*Many mayors and other officials had an extremely difficult time reaching utility JCP&L to get information regarding restoration in their towns.

*Many customers could not contact JCP&L to get information regarding restoration of their service and automated company call backs were confusing.

*Issues regarding PSE&G and JCP&L substations, more specifically why were they built in flood areas, need to be addressed.

The state report “analyzed data from 110 interviews and involved approximately 800 data responses focused on pre-storm preparation, intra-storm delivery system resiliency, post-storm recovery efforts and communications.”

As a result, Gov. Christie today said he wants legislation to increase accountability on the part of utilities.

In part, the report stated that “No matter how successfully an EDC (electric distribution company) conducts its restoration activities, poor and inaccurate communications will outweigh many of the positive aspects of those efforts.”

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