.

What can we do?

Storm thoughts

This storm was a bruiser—no question. While or municipal departments went above and beyond, our utility providers, once again, failed us. Towns can hire and fire providers such as disposal companies, maintenance contractors, etc., but there is little recourse once you’re stuck with a single electric, cable, and phone providers who cross county and state lines. Some suggested monetary penalties for poor service. One way or another, such penalties are invariably passed on to the consumer. Some suggested replacing current provides. For TV, internet, and cell, we do have choices—not for electricity, unless you are one of the rarae aves  living off the grid. So, what do we do?

 

  1. Get the power companies back before each and every municipality affected–again, to explain their emergency plans, restoration priorities, and what they learned from this storm and what they plan to do better. The operative word here is “plan.”

 

  1. Voice your experiences to the state. One commenter mentioned calling the governor’s office. Every NJ legislative office is up for grabs on Tuesday. Give the state’s candidates a call.

 

  1. Voice your ideas anywhere that you can. Write to newspapers, attend pertinent meetings, blog, use Twitter, Facebook, etc. Good, new ideas don’t come from stale concepts, and better ideas are certainly needed.   

 

I’m going back to my chainsaw now. I certainly want to read your ideas and what you think needs to be done.

 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Aldo Cammalleri Jr November 05, 2011 at 12:06 AM
their is someting we can do write to bpu and tell them that the service is not up to par remember jcpl does not supply the power they just transport it to the homes pseg can take over just like cable companies switch
Bill Leavens November 05, 2011 at 04:23 PM
Bite the bullet, compel the utilities to spend the money and bury the lines. The trees will keep growing and this will be a problem again - guaranteed. Besides which, don't you think all those poles and wires are sort of ugly?
Joseph Keyes November 05, 2011 at 08:56 PM
Thanks, Mr. Cammalleri, New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities can be reached at: http://www.nj.gov/bpu (Home page) http://www.nj.gov/bpu/assistance/complaints/inquiry.html (file complaints) …or by mail/phone at: New Jersey Board of Public Utilities 44 South Clinton Avenue (9th Floor) Post Office Box 350 Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0350 Phone: 609-777-3300.
Joseph Keyes November 05, 2011 at 09:42 PM
Mr. Leavens, Burying the wires makes perfect sense for new developments where homes are designed to receive underground electric, fiber optic, and other utility services from the get-go. Deficiencies of services that have been hanging from poles for decades, have become painfully obvious. Retrofitting existing decades-old pole services to underground over our expansive, rough terrain would require a lot of effort (and $$$). If utilities “bit the bullet,” it would come back to us every month in our utility bills—and judging from what I’ve seen, they’re not up to the task. One solution may be to assess what hardware can be hung on a pole, and what cannot. If you have ever heard a pole-mounted transformer explode near your home, then you know what I’m talking about. In another example, I declined cable service after the installer arrived and advised me that he couldn’t install an outdoor run of cable to my home because of my trees. After showing him my next door neighbor’s run, with those same trees in place, he finally admitted that he did not have outdoor cable—he was quite prepared to run indoor cable from the pole to my home! Can standardization re wire gauge, composition, and sheathing be achieved? This is one of those situations where WT would benefit from some expert advice.
Bill Leavens November 05, 2011 at 09:55 PM
Agreed it will be expensive and that some part of the distribution system will have to be above ground. It doesn't have to be done all at once, so burying lines could be phased in whenever it's practical - especially in those areas where overhead lines run through mature trees. And just like road improvements which could surely be funded by user fees on gasoline (not allowed to say 'gas tax), it will cost money to the utilities and that cost will surely be passed along. Maybe right now isn't the best time to initiate any infrastructure improvement, but it should be considered when (if) we get back to the old economic 'normal'.
Joseph Keyes November 05, 2011 at 11:41 PM
Bill, Your thoughts about phasing in underground service while improving pole services make sense to a point. My concerns are the dollars involved. NJ is used to cheap gas taxes. Asking the state for an increase to support rural utility initiatives would be like asking urban communities to pony up for the waters preserved by the Highlands Act. Both are arguably good solutions, but the devil is in the details. Thanks, Joe
Bill Leavens November 06, 2011 at 12:09 AM
@ Joseph. I, too, recognize the political reality. That's why we'll likely have banged up roads, toppled wiring and impoverished Highlands property owners forevermore. Too bad we an't face another reality and start merging school districts and municipalities and consolidating the plethora of inefficient local governments in New Jersey. That might save us some real money. Sorry. Caught myself dreaming there for a moment...
Will Tronoski November 06, 2011 at 01:32 AM
I've been thinking about this a lot over the past few days. It's a really difficult challenge, because of what's been covered already in the post and comments. Here are some ideas I've come up with. Some may already be in place, I just don't know. 1.) Prioritize. Figure out the 3-5 most important elements of the infrastructure that we need to worry about. I'm sure there are main power feeds that we need to protect first. Concentrate on those. The municipality needs to work with the utility as a partner instead of simply demanding action. 2.) Leverage online and social media for collecting and disseminating information during the storm. Patch, Twitter, and other capabilities are very powerful now. We could improve the information that officials get and keep people more informed by effectively leveraging the available capabilities. 3.) Increase transparency. Both JCP&L and the municipality should be transparent about plans and investment priorities. 4.) Agree with what Joseph said above about getting involved. All of us can participate locally to make our priorities and interests known. It's not good enough to sit back any more.
RGJ November 06, 2011 at 04:05 PM
Some people alsways equate Acts of God with Human Incompetence, as when you build an entire city below seal level. The only two concrete steps I can see here is to have a much more aggressive program on trimming back threatening limbs in the temperate weather, and secondly, figuring out a way, through local based trained teams or the national guard or something to jump into the tree removal part once the juice is off, and leave the wire splicing to JCL&L. An awful lot of trucks out there clearing wires said "Bubba's Yard Service", or whatever.
Joseph Keyes November 07, 2011 at 01:36 AM
Mr. Tronoski’s points about communication and transparency are on the mark. We need to be up re what’s happening, where the problem areas are, and when to expect results. We also need to know when to realistically expect service restoration. On another note, if service restoration priority is dependent on population density, then utility rates should be assessed on those parameters. Those in lower priority areas should not be paying the same rates as those in higher priority areas. Also, it’s insulting to receive a utility bill that you have to read by flashlight. I want to send my propane bill to JCP&L, but doubt that anyone there would understand what to do with it.

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