BPU Storm Response Report
July 25, 2018 – In the wake of a huge public outcry after the March 2018 Winter Storms Quinn and Riley, Governor Phil Murphy ordered the NJ Board of Public Utilities to investigate storm responses by utility companies. The BPU held 5 public hearings, solicited written comments and directed its staff to conduct an investigation. At the BPU Board meeting that I attended today, a considerable amount of time was spent on the 76-page report that was officially released today including the recommendations. The Board voted unanimously to accept the findings of the report and this report was officially released by Governor Murphy.
In accepting the findings of the report, the BPU issued an official Order that require electric distribution companies and pole-owning telecommunication providers to implement BPU Staff’s 15 recommendations. These recommendations come on top of the 100+ that were implemented by the BPU after Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
Winter storms Quinn and Riley caused significant power interruptions to many New Jersey residents. We know that storms and hurricanes will occur. And if climatologists are to be believed, the frequency and severity will only increase. However, what was most disturbing about the storm responses was the conclusion that the lack of preparedness and pre-storm actions (including vegetation management - read as tree trimming) were significant contributing factors
In particular, Commissioner Bob Gordon (formerly NJ Senator for LD38 before his appointment as Commissioner) publicly noted that some of the storm responses were also directly impacted by the lack of appropriate investment in maintaining the infrastructure (hmmm sound familiar?) and he would like to see whether legislation can be enacted to hit the pocketbook of shareholders of utility companies as a deterrent to the under-investment of our distribution system. Kudos to Commissioner Gordon!
We applaud Governor Murphy and the BPU for their swift action. It will be interesting to see what happens when the next major storm hits.
While I attended the BPU Board meeting today in Trenton in which the findings of the report were formally accepted, I want to acknowledge and thank NJ Senator Declan O’Scanlon for providing me a copy of Governor Phil Murphy’s Press release which contained a copy of the BPU storm response report & Official Order. See link below to Governor Murphy’s press release.