Rebuilding N.J.'s power grid post-Sandy: Will people pay more? | Commentary | -- Your State. Your News.

Jul 01st
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Rebuilding N.J.'s power grid post-Sandy: Will people pay more?

HotTopicslogo_optBY GINA G. SCALA

I’ve always been a glass is half full person. I believe it isn’t about what happens to a person but how it is handled that defines individual character.

Like too many Jersey Shore residents, it’s been nearly three weeks since I’ve slept in my own bed, drank my from favorite coffee mug and gone about my normal life. Still, I am grateful for food, shelter and every emergency worker whose own lives have been on hold since before Hurricane Sandy and utility workers from around the state and out-of-state who haven’t been home with family and friends for sustained periods of time since the end of last month.

And with less than a week to Thanksgiving, I am also grateful for New Jersey politicians (no, there is nothing wrong with your eyes; you read that correctly). For the most part, they seem to be keeping politics out of the heartbreaking task of cleaning up after Sandy.

In fact, the state legislature is expected to hold public hearings in wake of Sandy’s destruction. The first is slated for Monday, Nov. 26, in Toms River; one of the hardest hit areas in Ocean County.

Sandy is the largest storm in the Atlantic ever; annihilating shore communities and boardwalks that Gov. Chris Christie calls “the Jersey Shore of my youth.” She is directly responsible for the death of 37 people in the Garden State.

Along the way, Sandy exposed some dirty little secrets, like the aging power grid. More than 5,600 utility poles were snapped by 100 mph winds, which also shattered roughly 2,200 transformers state wide. Vital substations were decimated by the storm surge.

State Sen. Ray Lesniak, who chairs the Telecommunications and Utilities Committee, said power companies and the Board of Public Utilities must make storm-proofing the grid a priority going forward.

"But the overall problem is just generally, it is a system that was built 100 years ago and we haven't invested in its upgrade either in bricks and mortar or in technology," Lesniak said, adding he believes New Jerseyans will be glad to pay higher electricity rates for reliable power supply.

I guess Lesniak is a glass half full person, too.


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