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Long-term Sandy power outages lead to grid questions

thunderstorm08812_optBY REBECCA SHEEHAN and BOB HOLT
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

Back when superstorm Sandy hit land, hundreds of thousands of New Jersey residents homes went dark, and some have still been struggling without power for the past two weeks. As of last evening, News12.com reported that New Jersey utilities have brought back electricity to almost all of their customers who were affected by either the hurricane or the nor’easter.

But the debate is still raging on about New Jersey’s power outage problems. One New Jersey mayor believes there’s a flaw in the state’s power system, and New Jersey needs to reinvest in new technology.

Tim McDonough, mayor of Hope in northwestern New Jersey says he isn’t blaming the utility companies, but the system itself is outdated.

McDonough said, according to nj1015.com, “People on the ground are working their butts off, but when you’ve got a system like this, this is going to happen. There’s new technology out there where poles won’t break in 50 mile an hour wind and transformers aren’t going to split open and oil is going to come out of them.”

“It may sound silly, but this is the United States of America,” McDonough added. “If we can put a man on the moon we should not be dealing with this.”

In Matawan, there was a public meeting last week to offer information to residents and to hear their frustrations with Jersey Central Power & Light. Many residents were without power for 11 days. Mayor Paul Buccellato and the Office of Emergency Management heard about the lack of cell phone service in town and the damaged phone lines that made home phones unusable. Other issues discussed by residents, according to Matawan-Aberdeen Patch, were JCP&L's lack of tree trimming, and homes with ejection pits, meaning their sewer system won't empty without electricity.

"We're going to have to sit down and look at a longer term plan to do what's necessary to transform our system from the one right now that is so vulnerable," said Senator Samuel Thompson, present at the meeting. "But that's not something we can do overnight."

Meanwhile, as of last evening 3,470 residents of Morris County residents are still waiting patiently for their power to be restored at the hands of Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L), while at the same time Atlantic City Electric is working around the clock to restore the 2,441 outages they are reporting in Ocean County. The Associated Press acknowledged that JCP&L still has roughly 30,000 customers on the barrier islands and along the Jersey shore whose power is yet to be restored due to major damage

At a recent National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners meeting, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities regulator Joseph Fiordaliso advocated developing a revolutionary electricity grid to protect residents against extreme weather situations.

Fiordaliso noted that in 50 years, the grid will look very different than it does now. “We're seeing change at the state level," he said, according to platts.com. State regulators and FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff discussed ways to add distributed generation, energy efficiency, and other alternatives at their meeting.

 

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