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Resolution Targeting JCP&L Improvements Makes Rounds

Resolution stems from comments recently made by Monmouth County town officials

Out of the recent regional summit of Monmouth County municipal officials came a draft resolution crafted in Tinton Falls and designed to hold Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) accountable for improved service.

The resolution stems from comments and suggestions made by various Monmouth mayors and officials at the summit, held in Tinton Falls last month, to vent complaints about how JCP&L handled Hurricane Sandy and workshop solutions for improved service.

"Mayors and representatives from more than 20 municipalities where represented in this meeting and their comments and concerns have been reflected in this resolution," Skudera said in a release.

Fair Haven Mayor Ben Lucarelli was one of those mayors in attendance. "We all sat down after the meeting and made a list of primary concerns and how they could potentially be handled," Lucarelli said. "That was very productive."

Since Sandy, residents and officials have bandied about ways to move forward with more pro-active methods for improvement, especially considering a lack of improvement since last year's tropical storm Irene.

"This is a good start," Lucarelli said. "We'll have this uniform resolution to declare exactly what has been wrong and how we propose those things be handled." Lucarelli expects to have the resolution on next week's meeting agenda.

Officials at the meeting criticized JCP&L's lack of communication and information with their towns and agreed that the utility company should make some changes.

"(Middletown) Mayor (Tony) Fiore and I fully recognize the hard work by the lineman, forestry crews, and other dedicated personnel from both JCP&L and the many out-of-state crews that spend time away from their families to come to the aid of the residents of New Jersey during Sandy and the nor'easter," Skudera said. "This resolution lists constructive and proactive ways for the management of JCP&L to improve their overall level of service to the residents and municipalities that they serve."

Skudera said the goal is to have the resolution passed at upcoming town  council meetings across the county.

"Additionally, this resolution will be sent to the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders, representatives from the New Jersey State Assembly and Senate, and the Office of the Governor," Skudera said.

"Mayor Fiore and I will be working to get this resolution before the Board of Public Utilities and look forward to working cooperatively with all parties involved so that these proactive measures are given top consideration," he added. "We hope that the mayors of Monmouth County and the hundreds of thousands of residents that they represent will be heard loud and clear."

The resolution in its entirety is below:

RESOLUTION SUPPORTING THE TOP 10 WAYS FOR (JERSEY CENTRAL POWER & LIGHT) JCP&L TO IMPROVE IT OVERALL LEVEL OF SERVICE TO MUNICIPALITIES AND CUSTOMERS THAT IT SERVES BASED ON THE COLLECTIVE RECOMMENDATIONS OF MONMOUTH COUNTY MAYORS DURING THE 3RD ANNUAL SNOW SUMMIT HELD IN THE BOROUGH OF TINTON FALLS

WHEREAS, Tinton Falls Mayor Michael Skudera and Middletown Mayor Anthony Fiore co-hosted the 3rd Annual Snow Summit in the Borough of Tinton Falls, NJ; and

WHEREAS, these summits were started after the blizzard of 2010 by Mayor Michael Skudera as a way for municipalities to come together and share services, exchange ideas, and discuss ways to improve their response and cleanup efforts relating to winter weather and other weather emergencies; and

WHEREAS, the 3rd Annual Snow Summit focused on proactive and constructive ways for JCP&L to improve their overall level of service and communications to the municipalities and customers that they serve after the devastating effects of Sandy and a Nor’easter that subsequently followed; and

WHEREAS, the Mayors of Monmouth County collectively discussed ways in how JCP&L should improve their overall level of service and agreed on a top 10 list of items to be forwarded to JCP&L, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the New Jersey State Assembly, New Jersey State Legislature, and the Office of the Governor of New Jersey.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the {Insert Municipality Name}, in the County of Monmouth, New Jersey, the following suggestions and action items are fully supported as follows:

  1. Regional Conference Calls: Smaller, regional conference calls between JCP&L and the mayors would provide greater detailed information and increase interactions compared to the current statewide conference calls.
  2. Process Redesign: Provide an easy to use, web-based process for municipalities to register priority areas with JCP&L instead of the current process of JCP&L informing municipalities of their perceived priorities. Such priorities should include but not be limited to the following: hospitals, schools, senior complexes, nursing homes, group homes, schools, sewer pumping stations, major traffic intersections, and emergency services infrastructure.
    1. Substations: A web-based process should exist for municipalities to request that JCP&L relocate substations that are in flood zones or other hazardous areas prone to storm damage.
    2. Recurring Outage Areas: A web-based process should exist for municipalizes to register problem areas that frequently lose power with JCP&L so the areas can be inspected and a long-term solution could be provided.
  3. Power Grid: JCP&L should provide each municipality with an understanding of how their local power grid works and how it affects the community. Such information should include but not be limited to physical or electronic maps depicting power stations, transmission lines, and transformers that could eventually be incorporated into municipal GIS systems.
  4. Proactive Tree Trimming: JCP&L should work with municipalities and homeowners to identify, plan, and coordinate a long-term proactive effort to prune trees in the municipality  
  5. On-Site Support – JCP&L should establish a fair and equitable formula to provide on-site support to a municipality based on the overall population of each municipality during severe weather events. As an example, for each 5,000 residents in a municipality’s population, JCP&L should provide one on-site support resource that will work with a municipality Office of Emergency Management. This will enable issues to be reported faster and allow for greater communications and productivity between the municipalities and JCP&L. Currently municipalities share a JCP&L representative who may cover several towns and is located off-site.
  6. Intra-Utility Communications: JCP&L should outline its process to municipalities on how it intends to provide greater communication and coordination between itself and other supportive utilities including but not limited to Verizon, Comcast, and NJ Natural Gas. Currently there is a lag time between the utilities and for example Verizon will erect a new poll that will set there for days before JCP&L fixes the wires.
  7. Capital Plan: JCP&L should provide each municipal with an overall understanding and commitment to long term infrastructure improvements which should include but not be limited to power lines, equipment, and employees. This plan should be updated every year and sent to each municipality.
  8. Dedicated Crews: JCP&L should provide each municipality with information on how many trucks are working in each town with a focus on keeping dedicated crews in each town during severe weather. Currently JCP&L crews are spending time traveling to sites at different locations in different towns and are not working in one section at a time. JCP&L crews should work directly with the municipalities Office of Emergency Management to determine effected areas and set priorities rather than having the operations being run remotely from an off-site location.
  9. Communication Upgrades: JCP&L should provide each municipality with an outline on how it intends to upgrade its overall communications with the residents and municipalizes that they service. This should include but not be limited to the following:
    1. Web Services: JCP&L should include the addition of Web Services using the XML (Extensible Markup Language), SOAP (SOAP Simple Object Access Protocol), WSDL (Web Services Description Language) and UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery and Integration) open standards to allow municipalities to directly consume data into their internal systems rather than continually having to manually monitor and check the JCP&L website for relevant updates and information. Web Services would greatly increase the communications to municipalities and should include street-by-street updates and time estimates.
    2. Internet Upgrades – The aforementioned section should also be included on the website of JCP&L and in addition, a color-coded map should be included visibly displaying the outages at a street level.
    3. Emergency Alerts – JCP&L should provide its plans to each municipality on how it indents to advertise and use an emergency alert (reverse 911) system to provide its customers with relevant information to their home phones, cell phone, and mobile devices.
  10. Enhanced Call Center: JCP&L should outline and provide each municipality with its plans to overhaul and enhance its customer call center and look for ways to make it more regionally-based. Currently during power outages, municipalities are taking thousands of calls per day and are not provided with relevant information from JCP&L.

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