The last of 6 public hearings has been held by the Jersey Board of Public Utilities - at Ramapo College in Mahwah - to gather testimony about how the state's utilities performed after hurricane Irene pounded the Garden state a couple of months ago.

BPU President Lee Solomon says there has been a mixture of sentiments expressed - some positive and some negative- and now "the general hope is that we're going to get out of this a set of best practices for communication, for operation, for planning."

He says all of the testimony that's been given will be reviewed, "we'll review the transcripts, we'll review the written statements, and then we will conduct our own hearing, at which representatives of the regulated utilities will speak…and out of that, hopefully will come some board action - in terms of something in the nature of best practices - but also some assessment of what the infrastructure needs are -and if we're spending ratepayer money to make upgrades, improvements or change policies, we want to make sure that the ratepayers are getting good value for their dollar."

Solomon adds "it's all supposed to come together within the next couple of months - we want to be prepared in the event something like that happens again…there's some things we can do fairly quickly - and that would be on the communications side - there are some things that will be far more difficult, such as assessing infrastructure."

He points out "there are a lot of people that are frustrated, a lot of people that are angry, but we really wanted to hear not just the anecdotal information about what occurred, but what the suggestions were…and we've gotten a lot of input from elected representatives, and community representatives - emergency management people - and others with some ideas about things that worked and can be applied across the board."