(TRENTON) – Assembly Telecommunications & Utilities Committee Chairman Wayne P. DeAngelo (D-Mercer, Middlesex) Wednesday issued the following statement regarding the release of a report by the state Board of Public Utilities review of the response by energy providers to this past year’s major winter storms:
“The unprecedented storms that impacted New Jersey late in the winter of 2018 showed that our energy systems can be vulnerable at any time of year. While a lot has been done since the devastation of Superstorm Sandy to improve the resiliency and reliability of our energy grid, New Jerseyans experienced outages and delays in restoration this winter that still need to be addressed for the long-run.
“I greatly appreciate the time and attention that the BPU put in to thoroughly examine the root cause of power outages –whether it was fallen trees from high winds or the sheer impact of the storms– and then the subsequent response by the energy providers. My colleagues in the Legislature and I will take a closer look at their findings and determine if there are areas that need to be addressed legislatively as we work together with the energy companies in our state to provide reliable energy services to all communities.”
“New Jersey had one of the worst winters on record, but my administration has taken the stance that the prolonged service interruptions were, in many cases, preventable,” said Governor Phil Murphy, who directed the NJBPU to investigate the actions of the EDCs following March nor’easters Riley, Quinn, and Toby to determine lessons learned and to develop best practices moving forward.
The NJBPU conducted five public hearings throughout the state and obtained testimony from the public and elected officials. NJBPU staff also analyzed the EDCs’ actions, both individually and collaboratively, to determine whether they complied with the 100 requirements adopted after Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy.
The investigation resulted in an extensive report which summarized staff’s findings and recommended a series of actions, specific to each EDC, in the following areas: Pre-Storm Preparations; Restoration of Service; Communications and Outreach: Winter Storms Riley and Quinn; The EDC’s Response to Winter Storm Toby; and Compliance with Board Orders.
The Board’s vote encompasses all actions that must be taken by utilities to better prepare for any event that may result in widespread periods of service interruption.
“These directives are the result of a thorough investigation and illustrate what actions the EDCs need to take to make sure our residents never have to go through anything like this again,” said NJBPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso. “I would like to thank Governor Murphy for his leadership on this matter as we move forward to ensure the implementation of the Board’s orders.”
The NJBPU’s vote to accept the staff’s report turned staff’s recommendations into Board requirements. The additional 30 newly ordered requirements, when combined with those previously ordered during Irene and Sandy, will serve to further utility best practices, particularly when faced with issues regarding service interruption.