TRENTON — If you were among the 338,000 customers in the dark during last Wednesday's second of three nor'easters to come through New Jersey in quick succession, how much would you have given to get your power turned back on right away?

If you answered less than $250, you're probably not offering enough incentive to New Jersey utility companies.

That is the maximum fine, per day, for public utilities' "noncompliance with orders" like restoring power in a timely manner, according to a revised state statute from 2013 and reported by NJ.com.

State Sen. Joseph Pennacchio, R-Morris, has tried for six years to get that penalty increased to $25,000 for every day of delays, with a cap of $2 million for a series of related events like the recent nor'easters. But his bill repeatedly stalled despite the support of former Gov. Chris Christie, NJ.com reported.

On "Ask the Governor" Monday afternoon, Gov. Phil Murphy reiterated that he is directing the state Board of Public Utilities to investigate JCP&L's response to the March storms, calling the company's performance "unacceptable."

Patrick Lavery produces "New Jersey's First News" and is New Jersey 101.5's morning drive breaking news reporter. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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