Bill Would Set Power Outage Standards for NJ Power Companies

April 13, 2018

By Joanna Fanuko - Content Producer

After a sloshing slew of nor’easters on the coastline, New Jersey state lawmakers are seeking a bill that improves the power emergency response for the next snowy season. The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities established the need for standards in emergency preparation and power restoration. Let’s look at what the bill means for power companies, customer outages, and why NJ lawmakers are pushing for a plan of action.

What is Required of Utility Providers?

Essentially, the bill will introduce a standard plan for power companies to follow in the aftermath of a major storm. A standard plan submitted by the power providers will improve upon the restoration of customer power, the deployment of crewmen and supplies, and the preventative measures towards avoiding major outages in the first place.

Why is the Proposed Bill Important?

NJ Governor, Phil Murphy is angry with the current state of storm preparation, or lack thereof. He blames major power provider JCP&L with leaving over 200,000 of its 1 million customers without power after a nor’easter early this year. The utility company says it’s the massive accumulated snowfall that is leaving so many in the dark.

After the 2012 coastal pummeling by Hurricane Sandy, the Board pushed utility companies toward spending billions on disaster preparedness in response to storm outages. Gov. Murphy is most upset by the lack of positive reform to storm planning and power restoration in a post-Sandy New Jersey.

How are Power Companies Affected?

A hefty violation fine of $10,000 daily (up to 1 million dollars) is likely a motivating factor for utility companies to get cracking on submitting their plans. NJ Senator Shirley Turner is looking for accountability from power companies. She says her bill would standardize utility company procedures and the way they respond to customers when restoring power. Senator Turner explains why she wants legislation enacted in layman’s terms: without monetary consequences, power companies won’t budge.

As winter comes to a close, New Jersey lawmakers like Gov. Murphy and Senator Turner hope to establish a clear plan of action for next winter’s storms. If I were JCP&L, I would get a move on that proposal plan – because the happy customer is the one with all the power.

Business Impact

While many businesses are in priority restoration areas, a formal plan would ensure all businesses have a better sense of timing and would reduce outage times, limiting lost opportunities.  In conjunction with business initiatives to install power protection systems in their facilities, the bill would ensure that business disruptions due to power outages would be reduced and operations are able to resume as quickly as possible.

Edited by Erik Linask