In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) and members of the New Jersey League of Municipalities held Emergency Response Summit meetings in Morristown and Tinton Falls to discuss steps that could be taken to enhance communications between the company, elected officials and emergency responders if another large-scale weather event affects the state.
Hurricane Irene resulted in more than two-thirds of JCP&L's 1.1 million customers losing power – the largest ever impact from one storm. Restoration efforts were severely hampered by the widespread nature of the damage, inaccessible roads, flooded substations and more than 20,000 wire-down hazards.
New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) President Lee A. Solomon, along with other BPU staff, also attended the meetings to hear what improvements could be implemented quickly between utilities and local officials to enhance emergency communications should another major storm hit the state.
"JCP&L values the relationships we have established with all of our communities, and we recognize that the mayors require better information from us during these types of emergencies," said JCP&L President Donald Lynch. "Today's meetings provided valuable input that will help shape improvements in our communications efforts when power interruptions occur in the future."
Officials from 19 municipalities in northern New Jersey and 13 municipalities in central New Jersey participated in today's meetings.
"The purpose of this meeting was to begin developing a viable response plan for future emergencies," said League of Municipalities' Executive Director Bill Dressel. "We all need to learn from our recent experience and move forward. We appreciate the willingness of JCP&L to work with the mayors who raised concerns and who proposed improvements."
The response plan is expected to be competed over the next several weeks, then shared with mayors. Once finalized, the plan then will be announced to the public by JCP&L and the League of Municipalities representatives.