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JCP&L Response Criticized by Kinnelon Mayor, Council

Mayor said the small number of residents serviced by the company were not attended to quickly after Tropical Storm Sandy.

While Kinnelon Mayor Robert Collins took a few minutes to commend borough staff, volunteers and Butler Electric utility workers Thursday night, he also spoke of his dissatisfaction with Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) and their lack of communication regarding the 73 Kinnelon residents who use the company's power.

"We can make note of the fact that our residents were put in a very difficult position because [JCP&L] didn't do what they were supposed to do," he said.

Collins said that he first contacted JCP&L on Sunday after learning that of the 73 JCP&L customers in the borough, 85 percent remained without power. He said he did not receive a return call for days and when he did, the person on the other line seemed to provide an almost automated response.

The mayor criticized JCP&L, as other local mayors have in the past few days, for poorly communicating with municipalities about when they were working and where.

JCP&L provided restoration completion estimates on Thursday that showed only 17 Kinnelon residents to be without power. The number of JCP&L customers in Kinnelon without power represent about 23 percent of total customers in the borough and JCP&L estimated that all of the customers will be restored on Saturday.

For the residents who remained without power for days, Collins said the increasing number of people with power has not been comforting.

"Our 73 residents that were affected by this storm are going to be affected in a storm of this magnitude again," Collins said.

Councilman Ron Mondello asked if there was anything the borough could do to hold JCP&L more accountable.

"I'd like to see if we could adopt some type of ordinance where they get penalyzed, maybe $1,000-$2,000, per day," Mondello said.

Collins said other municipalities have considered similar actions in the past. In daily briefings, Collins said Gov. Chris Christie has asked local leaders not to be too hard on the company because they have been working as hard as they can.

"I don't see it," Collins said.

Councilman Gary Moleta noted how the borough's assigned JCP&L representative came before the council recently to promise the enhanced communication efforts the company had worked on since Tropical Storm Irene.

"You failed us again," Moleta said. "I think he needs to be addressed again."

Creative Storm Response Commended

One person who was able to get a quick response from JCP&L was Butler Borough Administrator Jim Lampmann, Collins said, who demanded an answer after the JCP&L feeder line to Butler Electric went down following the storm. Collins said the line to the substation was repaired and power restoration was able to resume within three days.

"Lampmann really stepped up and really put his feet to the fire on that one," Collins said.

Collins praised the Butler Electric workers altogether, explaining that they worked 18-hour days following the storm, restoring as much power as they could. The electric workers were not the only ones putting in extra hours, as Collins said the Department of Public Works employees, fire officials and police officers put in long hours as well. Collins said officers were out on the streets with chainsaws, chopping down trees in roads, and DPW crews were using plows to push the chopped stumps.

"That creativity shows that we are just thinking outside the box," he said.

Collins thanked council members for fielding phone calls from the public and volunteering their time to assist with residents in need. He also thanked the Kinnelon Office of Emergency Management volunteers, who maintained communication with the public through their Facebook page and helped coordinate the shelters that were set up at the schools.

"Organizationally, we're very fortunate to have the volunteers that we have," he said.

Councilman Andy SanFilippo praised the staff of the library, which has remained open and invited people in for warmth and Wi-Fi, as well. 

"They stepped up to the plate and opened up for everyone," he said.

BBBTBP November 09, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Well that's a pathetic statement too... The KDPW and KPD are awesome! But telling someone that it was her choice to move there is a lame excuse for people not getting equal service. She is just frustrated,,, can't you see that? duh. You are obviously a guy,,,be sensitive if you can.. go over and help them cut up the trees so that the slow moving JCPL can get in there and help those people! Have a sense of community.
WatSquad2 November 09, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Well said BBBTBP. These people with "concerned" in their names sure don't seem to be that concerned about their fellow Kinneloneons. Small Town Girl has every right to be frustrated and expect the same level of service for her tax dollars.
ABCD November 10, 2012 at 01:07 AM
I live on Voorhis Road and no one asked me too be there. I chose to live there. That is not the point. Voorhis Road is the only road in Kinnelon that has to have a different mailing address in another town. We pay taxes the same as everyone else. We also miss out on a lot of mailings including the yearly garbage/recycling paper but receive Lincoln Parks mailings that dont pertain to us. As you enter our street it states you are leaving Lincoln Park and if people (workers) see that... they leave because they have to put Lincoln Park in for the address. This causes many issues. As far as this storm, we are all well aware we were in a state of emergency. It doesn't make up for the fact that only one person from town came half way down our street and said there's nothing they can do. NO ONE has been back since. I have emailed the mayor and received no reply. I have emailed the BPU and no reply. There are many elderly people and young children on our block. It is a very unsafe place to be with 2 transformers on the ground, 3 poles down, wires zig zagging the street in several places and trees all over the place. It is now almost day 13 and still nothing. It is extremely frustrating!
Jack Squat November 10, 2012 at 03:23 AM
Q: What's The difference between JCP&L and a pile of turd on your front lawn? A: The pile of turd won't bill you for estimated charges this month that will be higher than your highest Summer month! Hold back payment from JCP&L this month, for every day without power, delay payment by that many days see how they deal with that!
J Brey November 16, 2012 at 03:48 PM
We got our power back on Nov 11th. We called Bulter Electric every day and finally called Mayor Collins since all we were told it that "we were on the list"... The Mayor got BE to come to our home and they told us we'd have power - the latest by 11/11. By noon 11/11, we still had no power so we called the Mayor and BE. BE was at our house in 30 minutes. The point is, we did "fall off the list" - and I can't figure out how. Not sure what type of system is used to manage repair requests and I do understand that this was unprecedented. I have always praised BE for their responsive service, but this time we were not very happy. Perhaps a review of how requests are managed and completed is in order...

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