After the first couple of nor’easters last month, hundreds of thousands of residents and businesses in New JErsey were left without power for weeks.

This week the state Board of Public Utilities will begin a series of public hearings to gather facts about how Jersey Central Power & Light, Public Service Electric & Gas, Atlantic City Electric, and Orange & Rockland Electric performed during and after the storms.

Joe Fiordaliso, the president of the BPU, said the first hearing will be Thursday, April 5 in Byram, a Sussex County township covered by JCP&L.

“And as you can imagine we’re expecting large groups of people to come out," he said.

Fiordaliso said he wants to get information from people about several things during these hearings, including how well the utility communicated information.

“People have to have an idea of what they should expect because when we’re in the dark, it creates fear [...] if we don’t know what’s going on," he said.

Fiordaliso said he also wants to know whether utilities provided estimates about restoration and how close they came to those estimates.

He said he wants to hear individual experiences about what people went though when the lights went out “because there are unique stories out there that we never hear about.”

He is also looking to hear ideas about vegetation management and how it might be improved “because that is the major culprit with above-ground lines.”

He noted while JCP&L has had more restoration problems than any other utility in recent storms, they also serve more rural areas where there are more trees.

“I want to know how that vegetation management program that they have is going. Are they keeping up with it? Do they have a regular routine?"

He said many questions need to be answered.

“I want to know why JCP&  has not given us an infrastructure plan yet. The other utilities have.”

He stressed we can’t eliminate power outages but “my goal is to minimize those outages and if they do occur, to minimize the duration of those outages.”

A second hearing will be April 12 in Parsippany. There will be public hearings in the coming weeks in Hunterdon, Bergen and Atlantic counties.

If people want to offer testimony but cannot attend a hearing, written comments will be accepted via email. They should be sent to: board.secretary@bpu.nj.gov

Written comments via regular-mail may be sent to:

Aida Camacho-Welch
Secretary of the Board
Board of Public Utilities
44 South Clinton Ave., 3rd Floor, Suite 314
PO Box 350, Trenton, N.J., 08625-0350

The BPU says those filing written comments should reference "March 2018 Winter Storm Events comments Docket Number EO18030255" in the subject field for emails and in the heading of any written correspondence. Comments will be accepted until May 31.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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