East Windsor, Hightstown, and Cranbury residents, among others in the 14th Legislative District, are due some answers from JCP&L President Donald M. Lynch, according to an Assembly Democrats News Release.
In a letter sent to Lynch on Tuesday, Senator Linda R. Greenstein (D-Plainsboro), Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo (D-Hamilton), and Assemblyman Dan Benson (D-Hamilton) invited the JCP&L president to hold an open forum with customers who have faced extended power outages in recent years, leading to frustrations that the utility provider is not able to meet the needs of consumers.
“Residents see little improvement to the energy infrastructure to prevent outages or methods used in order to communicate with them during these extended outages,” the lawmakers said. “Yet, customers have been asked once again to pay higher energy.”
The letter calls for a town hall to be held in Monroe Township, where Lynch could answer questions from residents in the 14th legislative district regarding the cause for increasing outages, power restoration, and communication with customers, as well as ways the company plans to address system shortfalls.
Chief among customers’ complaints was their inability to obtain any information about restoration or seek alternative shelter as the outages stretched past the initial seven to 10 day outage estimates.
"There needs to be a frank discussion regarding the reasonable expectations of customers as well as a true understanding of what steps their energy provider is taking to maintain a system capable of meeting these goals," said the lawmakers in the letter.
According to the news release, the lawmakers called for the forum to be held in Monroe because of the large number of customers who are senior citizens and have difficulty traveling. The group additionally urged JCP&L to unambiguously publicize the meeting to residents in surrounding towns serviced by the company.
According to Todd Schneider, director of external communications for FirstEnergy, JCP&L’s first priority is to continue to hear customers’ comments during public hearings held by the state Board of Public Utilities.
As per a notice distributed by the BPU, the public may address comments regarding JCP&L’s state of preparedness and responsiveness prior to, during, and after Hurricane Sandy to a representative from JCP&L, who will also make a presentation during the hearings.
The next JCP&L hearing will be from 4 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 18 in the Hopatcong Middle School Gymnasium, in Hopatcong, NJ.
As previously reported on Patch, this is just the beginning of hearings that will be held statewide. According to BPU spokesman Earl Pierce, the board is still deciding the hearings schedule, and there will be more set up throughout the state.
Schneider said JCP&L will likely discuss the option of holding a town hall in Monroe with the 14th district representatives once JCP&L has finished with the BPU hearings.