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Sandy Bills Would Improve Response By Utilities [AUDIO]

Storm prep bills take center stage in the New Jersey Legislature, as lawmakers look to improve response by utility companies.

Bruce Bennett, Getty Images

Senator Robert Singer (R-Monmouth/Ocean) has introduced three bills to improve response by public utility companies and facilitate power in natural disasters.

The bills would:

  1. Direct the state Board of Public Utilities to adopt best practices and standards for public utility disaster response.
  2. Permit certain public entities, nonprofits and businesses to qualify for BPU grants or low-interest loans to pay for alternative power generators, and requires the state Office of Emergency Management to develop specifications concerning the installation, use and safety of alternative generators.
  3. Require electric public utilities to repair or install street lights owned or operated by that utility within 72 hours of municipal notification. Violators would be liable for $50 fine per day.

Singer says the legislation will also be modeled after states like Louisiana and Florida.

“How do they cut trees so they don’t fall on lines that much, where do they mandate that power lines go underground, what do they do in general to make sure the response time is faster and better during emergencies…and then take those findings and adopt them as best practices for our state.”

He said New Jersey needs to be better prepared for future catastrophes.

“This legislation brings vital accountability to public utility companies and also mitigates tremendous pressure on them to immediately restore utilities to millions of customers by encouraging public and private entities to be prepared with backup power generators,” Singer added.

These measures will be sponsored in the Assembly by Sean Kean and Dave Rible.

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