A Kinnelon councilman plans to propose a borough ordinance that would impose a penalty on utility companies that “put dollars before their customers,” resulting in long delays when repairing outages after events like Superstorm Sandy.
Councilman Ronald Mondello said he came up with the idea, which he briefly mentioned during the council’s Thursday meeting, after reading earlier in the day about a Somerville law firm that had enacted a class action lawsuit against Jersey Central Power and Light (JCP&L) in relation to its Sandy response.
Mondello said he would discuss the idea further with the mayor and council before officially proposing an ordinance. During last week's work session meeting, Mayor Robert Collins described his dissatisfaction with the company's slowed response to him in answering when power would be repaired to Kinnelon's 73 JCP&L customers. While the majority of the borough had already had power restored with their own company, Butler Electric, those JCP&L customers remained without power for an extended amount of time.
Collins mentioned that, after multiple residents had raised concerns to him, he had spoken with representatives from Butler Electric about the logistics of leaving a JCP&L franchise area and joining the Butler-owned utility that purchases power from JCP&L but distributes itself.
“Residents within that area can actually petition the public utility commission,” Collins said. “[Butler Electric representatives] said it’s a very arduous process that may or may not come to fruition.”
Collins said he was also informed by Butler Electric earlier in the day that the utility company had replaced more than 154 utility poles following Sandy, up from about 30 poles that needed to be replaced last year after Tropical Storm Irene.