Dear Governor Christie:
As you know, Hurricane Sandy was a devastating storm for many of the citizens of New Jersey. Here in West Windsor Township, we estimate that 80 percent of our residents were without power after the storm due primarily to downed wires and transformers and downed trees due to wind. As is typical, township staff and our residents came together to serve those that were without power which caused the need for water due to pump outages for those who had well water, recharging of medical and communication devices, and especially heat.
West Windsor Township is served by two power companies. PSE&G serves the majority of the township, but on the eastern most point, JCP&L covers a relatively small section. While PSE&G was in constant communication with us and visually had teams out serving in the township, we had to constantly go after JCP&L for information.
I truly believe that because the area JCP&L serves is so small, the company treats it as an afterthought or an outlying area of Robbinsville, our neighboring municipality. Although in comparison to what happened last year during Hurricane Irene, JCP&L had made some improvement in communication, nevertheless, we still had difficulty with restoration of power and communications with JCP&L representatives during Hurricane Sandy.
I am writing to you for two reasons. First, I would like for our municipality to have one electric service provider and to replace the small area that JCP&L serves with PSE&G service. With very limited resources at the municipal level, this action would facilitate a more effective management situation for us in dealing with one single provider in West Windsor. I would like your office to assist us in determining how to achieve this.
Since it is an infrastructure and delivery question, any guidance someone can provide us would be appreciated. We simply do not have confidence in JCP&L to serve our residents or work dependably or competently with our staff. Please know that this is not an indictment against the line workers who are to be praised for their efforts. Rather, it is with the management that we have a problem in being informative and responsive.
Second, I wish to add my voice to yours in calling for much heftier fines of at least $25,000 per violation per day. I would hope that this disincentive would encourage JCP&L (in our case) to have a presence during a power emergency in every municipality in which they have customers and a designated source of information for every emergency center. PSE&G had daily briefings by conference call and were very responsive.
In closing, I will make this an open letter to you and share it with the press so that the residents of West Windsor Township are aware that communication is taking place even after the storm in order to improve recovery efforts when the power goes out or at least have some answers on any duration of power outages. As I’m sure you will agree, not knowing when power will be restored is the worst problem.
Mayor, West Windsor