Following a heated discussion by mayors of the short comings of JCP&L during Hurricane Sandy, a comprehensive list of proposed changes has been made for the utility to improve current and future restoration efforts.

Listener photo: Penny Carlson

The list is the result of last month's meeting of the Tinton Fall's Snow Summit, which invited mayors from around Monmouth and Ocean County to discuss any issues with emergency weather preparation.

During the meeting the main complaint from the forty mayors in attendance was the utility's response to Hurricane Sandy, specifically the lack of communication. According to Tinton Falls Mayor Michael Skudera and Middletown Mayor Anthony Fiore (the hosts of the Snow Summit), the goal is to get municipalities to approve the list as a formal resolution. From there they want to take it to officials on the state level and ultimately to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.

"Ultimately have those findings delivered to JCP&L and have them ultimately put an action plan together that encompasses most if not all those steps."

Though JCP&L is a private company, owned by First Energy LLC, Fiore notes the company is regulated by the Board of Public Utilities and there is no competition for them. What will be most important according to the Middletown mayor is cooperation from state legislators to follow through with making sure the items are enacted.

"These entities can enforce their will and they can enforce their influence on utilities like JCP&L by the fact that JCP&L needs to come before them quite often," says Fiore.

He acknowledges the utility could have issues with some of the points which require it spend money for upgrades, he notes they are still a business and serve their customers.

"While it may be costly for JCP&L to rectify their infrastructure, that is exactly what they are supposed to do for their customers."

Ten Point List

1. Regional conference calls between JCP&L and the mayors to provide more accurate

2. Create an easy to use, web based, way for municipalities to register major outage spots with JCP&L rather than the current process of individuals needing to call in their outages. The list should include priority locations such as: hospitals, schools, senior centers, nursing homes, group homes, schools, sewer pump stations, major traffic intersections, and emergency service infrastructure. The web based process should include a way for municipalities to request the utility to relocate substations that are in flood zones, as well as recurring outage areas.

3. Provide each municipality with an understanding of how their local power grid works and how it affects the community. Including physical or electronic maps depicting power stations, transmission lines, and transformers.

4. Work with municipalities and homeowners to identify, plan, and coordinate a long-term proactive effort to prune trees in the municipality

5. Establish a fair formula to provide on-site support to a municipality based on the overall population of each municipality during severe weather events. For example,for each 5,000 residents in a municipality's population, JCP&L should provide one on-site support resource that will work with a municipality Office of Emergency Management.

6. Outline its process on how it intends to provide greater communication and coordination between itself and other supportive utilities. (ie phone, internet, natural gas providers)

7. Provide each municipality with an overall understanding and commitment to long term infrastructure improvements which should include but not be limited to power lines, equipment, and employees. This plan should be updated every year and sent to each municipality.

8. Provide municipalities with information on how many trucks are working in each town with a focus on keeping dedicated crews in each town during severe weather.

9. Provide each municipality with an outline on how it intends to upgrade its overall communications with the residents and municipalities they service. Including, web services, better online tools, and emergency alerts.

10. Outline and provide each municipality with its plans to overhaul and enhance its customer call center and look for ways to make it more regionally-based. Currently during power outages, municipalities are taking thousands of calls per day and are not provided with relevant information from JCP&L