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NJ utilities could be charged for slow service

It seems as though storms are getting worse every year in New Jersey and residents and business have been left without power for a week and more in recent years. A Garden State lawmaker has introduced a measure to protect businesses that are forced to shut down during power outages.

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Utility Crew
Perry Mastrovito, Getty Images

State Sen. Bob Signer’s bill would make sure business owners are reimbursed by utility companies for times when owners have to close because of utility repair work at the business.

“Certainly natural disasters and things that can’t be controlled are not their (utilities) responsibility, but when it comes to making timely repairs that is their responsibility,” said Singer (R-Lakewood). “We have found that in the past they’ll say, ‘Well, we can’t get there for a few days. We’re going to come on a Saturday and you’ll have to close your business because we’re going to be doing our work there.’”

Business owners who complain about losing revenue are essentially told that is their problem, according to Singer. He said it should be the power companies’ problem.

“If they (utilities) have to bring people in at night to repair something or if they’ve got to bring people in during the early morning and it may be overtime, that’s your problem. It’s not my problem,” Singer said.

Power companies have a certain responsibility to businesses to make sure they can survive, according to the senator.

“What we’re looking to say to these companies is, ‘Look, if you’re not going to do something and there’s a loss of business because you wouldn’t do the repairs in a timely manner then you’re going to pay those businesses, and we feel that will be the emphasis that makes you do your job,’” Singer said.

The definition of “timely manner” will be spelled out in the final bill and there are exceptions for natural disasters said Singer. The legislation is co-sponsored by State Sen. Jim Holzapfel (R-Brick).

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