NJ Must Truly Address Long-Term Power Outage Problems [AUDIO]
There are systemic problems with the utilities operating in the Garden State that desperately need to be addressed says Tim McDonough, mayor of Hope in northwestern New Jersey.
He's not blaming the utility company bosses or their crew members for the extended power outages after super-storm sandy. He's pointing his finger at the system itself.
"This is a systemic problem," explains McDonough. "This is not necessarily the response to a storm. We're dealing with an outdated, archaic power system that's being run by a monopoly outside the state of New Jersey. The people on the ground are working their butts off, but when you've got a system like this, this is going to happen. It's going to continue to happen. After Hurricane Irene we had hearings and meetings and (heard), 'This is never going to happen again.' Well, here we are."
McDonough wants another round of very public hearings. He thinks state, county and local officials should call in the bosses of the utilities and their parent companies and really get to the heart of issue.
"The Board of Public Utilities (BPU) and Governor (Chris) Christie need to get these utilities together because they've got to start making the re-investment into this system," says McDonough. "There's new technology out there where poles won't break in a 50 mile an hour wind and transformers that when they fall on the ground they're not going to split open and oil is going to come out of them. There's new technology out there and New Jersey needs to get on board with that technology."
Last week, Christie warned elected officials and the press not to make the utilities out to be the bad guys. He said, "The villain in this instance is Sandy. That's the villain."
McDonough says, "The utility companies are dealing with the hand that they've been dealt. We can jump up and down and complain and cry every time something happens like this and point the fingers at the heads of these companies. I'm defending them because it's not their fault. It's the system's fault and we need to get involved with them and help them re-invest in the system and get that up. The Governor's been way out in front on this and thank God we've got Governor Christie, but we've got a system that's totally outdated and this is going to happen every time we have a storm unless we do something about it…..It may sound silly, but this is the United States of America. If we can put a man on the moon we should not be dealing with this."
Christie has praised the work of the utilities and utility crews, who have been working 16-hour days. He thinks Jersey Central Power & Light's performance in this storm has been "significantly better" than it was during Tropical Storm Irene.