Even as the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities investigates why hundreds of thousands of JCP&L customers lost power for more than a week when back-to-back nor’easters slammed the Garden State, Gov. Phil Murphy says the utility has been warned to be on their toes as this latest storm comes through.

During a news conference in Madison on Tuesday, Murphy said “we saw in the last couple of storms the biggest shortfall was the performance by the utilities, particularly JCP&L’s area.”

The governor said with strong winds and heavy, wet snow expected to intensify Wednesday, power interruptions are anticipated. He declared a state of emergency on Tuesday.

“If you experience an outage, please report it immediately [...] to your utility company. Don’t assume your neighbor or somebody else is going to report it for you. And please, God, if you see a downed line, stay clear.”

This month, two people died in New Jersey as a result of a downed power line.

Murphy, in ordering the BPU to launch an investigation into what went wrong, called the JCP&L response to the first two nor’easters “completely and wholly unacceptable.”

JCP&L as well as PSE&G, Atlantic City Electric and Orange & Rockland have been told to make sure repair crews respond to all outages in New Jersey before dispatching any crews out of state to help other utilities.

“We’ve been in touch with them all day. I believe it is true each of them have activated their mutual aid arrangements. In other words, their ability to bring in line men and women from other utilities.”

Murphy said the utilities have been asked to be proactive as this latest storm moves in and intensifies.

Murphy suggested at some point, New Jersey utilities may need to change the way they do tree trimming maintenance.

Two weeks ago when Murphy was asked about possible punishments for unprepared utilities, he said it’s too early to speculate.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com