SHREWSBURY SHINES SPOTLIGHT ON JCP&L

By: REBECCA DESFOSSE

In case it wasn’t already getting the message, JCP&L will now hear it from the Borough of Shrewsbury: get your act together.

At Monday night’s town council meeting, a resolution that resulted from a recent “Snow Summit” of Monmouth County town officials  won approval. It includes 10 recommendations aimed at getting the power utility to improve communications in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

One council member voted against the measure.

At the peak of the storm, all of Shrewsbury’s more than 1,200 homes were without power, according to borough officials. Restoration times varied through the town, but there were streets – including Spruce and Birch Drives – that were without power for a whopping 13 days, according to Mayor Donald Burden.

Burden attended the Snow Summit, hosted by Tinton Falls Mayor Mike Skudera and Middletown Mayor Anthony Fiore on November 19. There, officials came up with 13 recommendations that Skudera later boiled down to 10. Among them:

• Regional conference calls between JCP&L and the mayors to provide greater detailed information about outages and restoration efforts.

• Greater communication between JCP&L and other utilities, including Verizon, Comcast and NJ Natural Gas.

• Web services to include street-by-street updates and restoration estimates, and to allow municipalities “to register priority areas with JCP&L instead of the current process of JCP&L informing municipalities of their perceived priorities.”

• An overhaul of JCP&L’s customer call center.

In addition, the resolution recommends that JCP&L provide each municipality with an understanding of how the local power grid works and information on how many trucks are working in each town.

Councilman Peter Meyer said the list of demands was simply a “wish list.”

“I think it’s a nice resolution if we lived in the Garden of Eden, but find it so ridiculously over the top that I’m going to have to vote no,” he said.

Councilman Mike DeNofa countered that it was a “good idea” for affected towns to put their concerns in writing.

The resolution will now be sent to the Legislature, Board of Freeholders and the Board of Public Utilities.