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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.

Robert Von Schalscha November 09, 2012 at 03:53 AM
Cheers to all. Incredible work by all from the Mayor & Council on down. The restoration work crews, Emerency Services and the great people of our town. The OEM Facebook page was the best I've seen in my line of work and the information was very helpful. I witnesed first hand our front line officers clearing roads and working hard. Nice job KPD. Such a great town...
Artie November 09, 2012 at 12:02 PM
Butler electric has their act together. JCP and L should learn from them. They should also allow other electric companies to assist. As has been heard from many people that they would not allow assistance because of union rules. Unacceptable. I own a business in Wayne that will not have power until Sunday now. First Tuesday then Thursday and now Sunday? There is not even a truck in the area. Where is everyone.
Debbie14692 November 09, 2012 at 12:16 PM
Cheers to all unless you're one of the 17 who still don't have power! Why can't Butler Electric help hook up these residents even though they are serviced by JCP&L?
Concerned Resident November 09, 2012 at 12:24 PM
I think we need to give these guys a break, have you not seen the news, newspaper, etc... There was a Disaster. These people in kinnelon without power have a roof and house that they can at least stay in. Have you seen down the shore, they have NOTHING left. Which do you prefer.... People need to sit tight and relax, they have been working around the clock to get power back on.. In times like this we need to come together and work as a team not sit there and constantly complain about JCP&L. Be thankful for what you have your health and safety.
WatSquad2 November 09, 2012 at 12:58 PM
I bet you have power "concerned resident". Everyone here seems relaxed to me, except for you. Even the workers for JCP&L (and especially those from other states) say the response is horribly unorganized in this area. That's the issue. No one is saying they aren't thankfull for their health and safety.
Concerned Resident November 09, 2012 at 01:19 PM
12 days later, i finally have power.. All I'm saying is we need to be patient.. Unorgnaized yes but who isnt with this mess that NJ has gone thru..
Meg Gray November 09, 2012 at 01:27 PM
My husband works as an electrician and has always said Butler Electric is best in the area, next is PSEG, than JCPL and finally Orange and Rockland. The speed that they are serving their customers appears to be proving him right...and I don't like to admit when my husband is right. WOnder if there is anything the Mayor and Council in Kinnelon could do to get those few Kinnelon homes serviced with Butler Electric too. Hope it returns soon to those who are still without.
Cratchet November 09, 2012 at 01:36 PM
I don't get "concerned resident's" comment. You are comparing apples to oranges. People are not saying they are not grateful or not compassionate to those who have lost everything. Should we all be martyers and live without power, water, and heat because there are people who have lost their homes? What does that do? After this length of time, it seems ridiculous that people in the northern section of the state are STILL without power-especially due to a company with a history of poor performance. It might be easy for you to judge while you're sitting in your recliner with your tea and cable after you took a nice hot shower. And don't get me started on the gas situation, if the southern half of the state can get gas, why can't the northern? CC needs to take a ride up north, once you get us up and running, we can HELP with the southern half!
WatSquad2 November 09, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Keep this in mind: JCP&L is paid to provide a service. They are a publically traded company - owned by First Energy. The reality is that they are WAY MORE concerned about returning profits to their shareholders than they are fixing the power ASAP. Now, they have to fix the power lines that are down. However, they are doing that in the most cost effective way for them. They could very easily bring in more crews and restore power more quickly. However, that would effect their profits, share price, etc... It's the same reason they don't do a better job of maintaining their system. When is the last time the trees were trimmed around the lines that are down? For many lines the answer is never. That costs $$$ and has a direct impact on profits. They should be held accountable. They should be doing a better job for everyone involved.
eotdevice November 09, 2012 at 01:51 PM
My folks are still without power in a neighboring town and serviced by JCP&L. Haven't seen one truck take a look at the damage yet. However, take a ride to the Green Pond section of Rockaway Township. WOW, talk about damage on Tuesday there were still utility poles blocking roadways and lines down all over. Several JCP&L substations also got damaged. They have to fix it from the source and work their way out. Getting 1,000 people back on the grid replacing one pole is more important than 17. It will get done, just need to have more patience....
WatSquad2 November 09, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Someone representing JCP&L has assessed the damage in our neighborhood on four(4) different occasions now. Each time they had no idea that someone had already been out to look at the damage. They litterally write things down in a spiral notebook. How does all that info get back so someone can make a decision and prioritize? it doesn't! With today's technology they should be entering directly into a database via phone/computer. Agree 100% they should prioritize a run that services 1000 versus 17. However, if you talk to them you quickly realize they have no plan, no clue... The visiting crews (talked with crew members from Kentucky and Ohio) all stated they are frustrated and can't believe how disorganized everything is... That's the issue. They need to "plan the work and then work the plan".
Small town girl November 09, 2012 at 03:42 PM
I'm confused, JCP&L is saying that only 17 residents of Kinnelon are with out power, how is this possible when just on Voorhis Road alone there are 24 homes that are still without power. Maybe that has something to do with the whole confusion of the Lincoln Park mailing address issue.
Small town girl November 09, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Last year we had no power for over a week from the October 29th storm, one of the residents on Voorhis Rd. had to call the mayor to request JCP&L to get us up and running, because his son was born on November 4th and they weren't able to come home to a house with no electric. Last year when this happened, I spoke to the gentlemen from the Alabama electric company he had said he was there a couple of days earlier but the address he had said Lincoln Park and there is a sign at the border that says "Leaving Lincoln Park" and those at the top of the road had electric so he left, leaving us 3 or so more days longer without electric. This time when I spoke to a man from the Ohio electric company, he was suppose to be out on our road on Thursday, but didn't make it until Saturday, when he put the Lincoln park address into his GPS it said it doesn't exist. After he spoke to a couple of people they told him it was Kinnelon and that the zip code was 07405 he said it came up as Butler. But he said atleast this time there was an address with directions he could go to. That's the last and only electric company truck that has been down, we have poles, wires in the streets that we are driving over still, transformers laying in lawns, and we have to sit and say thanks for all the hard work JCP&L crews are doing. Hmmm, because it's their JOB?? I'm sorry but they are not donating their time to us, they are working..
Small town girl November 09, 2012 at 03:50 PM
I have a couple of questions, 1) Why doesn't the mayor know how many tax paying able to vote residents there are on Voorhis Road? 2) Why does the Kinnelon/Butler Mailman/women have to drive pass Voorhis Road to continue to deliver the mail to all the roads around us. They deliver Manrodt Ct. then drive by Voorhis Rd. to continue delivering mail on Peach tree, brook valley, etc.  If he could take care of this issue then half out problems would be solved. 3) When should we being getting our electric back,? When JCP&L called us the day before the storm they said " we should plan for a 7 to 10 day power outage". So I did, but my plan fell short we are now on our 12th day.
WatSquad2 November 09, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Agree that there is massive confusion on what addresses fall into which town, especially when looking at the JCP&L SPREADSHEET. There is a difference between the mailing address of your bill and which town they think you're in. Our mailing address is Kinnelon but they have our service in Towaco. We live on brook valley road and there are at least 17 customers without power just on this road. Add in others and there's a lot more than just 17 people paying Kinnelon taxes that still don't have power.
William J Coan November 09, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Well yOU SAY BE PATIENT But I was after 18 days no power,lights ,water, heat please put Your patients in a jar and send it to ME!
Small town girl November 09, 2012 at 04:06 PM
This is true.. When I spoke to a lady at JCP&L she had told me that we are also on the Montville/ Towaco grid. I'm not sure how long ago it was maybe 12 years or more that Brookvalley Rd. Kinnelon used the mailing address of Brookvalley rd. Towaco. A little less confusion now, atleast they can find you. lol.. It still doesn't help with the problem of getting our electric back on. So, maybe the mayor should really check into the real numbers that are without power.
BBBTBP November 09, 2012 at 05:16 PM
My sister with 2 Autistic sons are STILL without power. And one of them won't leave the house. JCPL need to improve their operations and reach out for more help to get special needs families serviced. Luckily the Cable came back after they heard him do his normal repeitive yelling about about not having cable/internet access.... maybe I should let JCPL also hear him about not having power.... That might do it!
Small town girl November 09, 2012 at 05:21 PM
While Kinnelon Mayor Robert Collins took a few minutes to commend borough staff, volunteers and Butler Electric utility workers Thursday night, did he also ask the head of DPW why when he came down to Voorhis Rd. he told the residents that he could not do anything for us when we had over 9 huge trees completely crossing our road making it impassible. Anyone that knows Voorhis rd. knows that it is only wide enough for one car and that it's a dead end road. So, when he said this it got my goat being that there are atleast 15 senior citizen over the age of 70 that live on this road and there were 4 of them out cutting up trees and moving them off the road, in case of an emergency. Just ridiculous!! I know we live on the forgotten end of town, but, really this is how it has to be, a mayor that doesn't have a clue what goes on in his own town.. BTW.. This is the same road that they have our children walking on to go through another town to get to their bus stop, which is located at the corner of Voorhis and Jacksonville, keep in mind that Jacksonville is a 40mph road and is also a county road and a truck route. They changed this 7 years ago to save money, so when they say it's for the safety of the children, who's children? Not ours.. Yes! I'm a little frustrated.
BBBTBP November 09, 2012 at 05:22 PM
WOW I feel sorry for you! That's pathetic that they cannot find your location! This is where you might need to put up a sign saying which part of the street has no power , as well as, sting what town you are living in!! This is where the towns or SOMEBODY needs to square this away... I live in Butler and I constantly get Kinnelon maill... really sad!! What year is this? 2012? And we cannot find residences? REALLY really sad... I say put up your own signs!!!!!
BBBTBP November 09, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Agreed! Here Here, Butler Electric... The whole of NJ needs to learn from them as well as maybe Jim Lappmman should be overseeing all of NJ's Electric needs! Kudos to Jim and the team! Thanks for the heads up on Wayne not getting power until Sunday.. They havent told my sister that yet(with her 2 Austistic kids)
Concerned Boro Resident November 09, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Small town girl... Did the mayor ask you to move onto Voorhis, no that was your choice.... KDPW and KPD did the best they could with falling trees, poles and winds, we are very lucky we did not lose any of their lives with the storm. Be thankful you have a home, food and all your loved one alot of people do not.
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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