Power Companies Failed to Communicate After Sandy, N.J. Utility Officials Say

The head of the state Board of Public Utilities said today that power companies need to provide more useful information to customers in the wake of huge natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy.

“We have plenty of ways to communicate the information to the public,” said Robert Hanna, president of the BPU. “The problem is the utilities are not generating the information in a way that is going to be useful to the public.”

Hanna said his own power was out for about six days, but the most frustrating part was that as the week went on the power company quoted the same restoration estimate of three to five days. “It just kept going on and on,” he said. “I do think the utilities have to do a much better job just generally disclosing more about the restoration process.”

Hanna made the remarks during an ongoing hearing in which the Senate budget committee is assessing utilities’ responses to Hurricane Sandy, which knocked out power to 2.7 million utility customers – a majority of the state.

Senators complained they couldn’t provide constituents with accurate information about when their power would be restored because they weren’t getting it from the companies.

“We were really operating in the dark,” said state Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Middlesex). Read more in Star Ledger.

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  1. the power companies said before the storm stuck power will be out for 7 to 10 days. It was 10 days before 95 percent of the people got their power back. I am not in love with First Energy, I’ve had my delays with them in the past, but look at past storms in other parts of the country, like Katrina had fewer people with their power out for a longer time then we did. In fact, I read a report from the US Dept. of Energy here is blurb from the article:

    U.S. Energy Department data to determine how many days it took to restore 95 percent of the peak number of customers left without power after major hurricanes since 2004, including Ivan, Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Ike and Irene.

    After Sandy, New York utilities restored power to at least 95 percent of customers 13 days after the peak number of outages was reported. New Jersey reached that same level in 11 days and West Virginia in 10 days.

    Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma in 2005 and Ike in 2008 all resulted in longer outages for customers in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Florida.

    The longest stretch to 95 percent restoration since 2004 was Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, where local utilities had power restored to only three-quarters of their customers after 23 days before Hurricane Rita hit and caused additional outages.

    It took Texas utilities 16 days to restore power to 95 percent of those who lost it during Rita, according to the federal data; Mississippi utilities needed 15 days after Katrina; Florida and Texas utilities needed 14 days after Wilma and Ike.

    New York and New Jersey recovered far faster after last year’s Hurricane Irene. It took seven days for New York to restore 95 percent of customers and six days for New Jersey. But the number of outages in each state was less than half than from Sandy.

    Who are you going to complain to if there is a tornado, forest fire, earthquake, a tsunami (the tidal waters are on the other side of the Parkway), etc, etc, etc.

    What does the BPU do anyway? They don’t keep my rates down. I’ve made complaints to them and just get rehtoric. They just want to make it seem like they are doing something for all the money they get as political appointments.

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