The Township Committee at its next meeting is planning on coming in locked and loaded with local legislation targeting the state’s second largest utility company.
Three resolutions aimed at Jersey Central Power & Light’s response to Hurricane Sandy are being drafted and should be ready for a committee vote at its Dec. 12 meeting, officials said.
The first is an adapted version of a resolution being passed in numerous towns in Monmouth County. It outlines 10 suggestions to make JCP&L a more responsive company, culled from a meeting attended by officials from several Monmouth County towns and held in Tinton Falls on Nov. 19, according to Jeffry Bertrand, township administrator.
The second is the codification of a strongly worded open letter sent by Mayor Jeffrey Foster and the Township Committee, Bertrand said.
The letter called JCP&L’s response to the storm “atrocious’’ and suggested that the company institute a Incident Command System, similar to the training required of all volunteer firefighters.
“As elected officials, our patience and understanding has run out,’’ the letter says. “Just as with the previous storm events in 2010 and 2011, the response to Hurricane Sandy by JCP&L was atrocious.”
The third resolution in the works will call on the Board of Public Utilities, the state agency that regulates utility companies, to exercise stronger oversight, Bertrand said.
There were indications on Thursday that the BPU may do just that.
Bob Hanna, board president, on Thursday appeared at a state Senate Budget Committee hearing in Trenton that focused on New Jersey utility companies’ response to the November storms that darkened 2.7 million homes and businesses for up to 13 days, saying companies failed to effectively communicate with municipalities and customers, according to the Associated Press.
JCP&L amid widespread criticisms from towns all over New Jersey, some of which are considering dropping the utility company entirely, petitioned the BPU for a $31 million rate hike. If approved, the average JCP&L customer’s bill would rise about 1.4 percent overall.
The move has been met with staunch opposition.
State Sen. Peter J. O’Toole, R-Bergen, sent a letter to the BPU requesting an immediate denial of the rate increase.
“The state’s second-largest utility has no shame,” O’Toole said in a release. “Its parent company has raked in a $149 million increase in net income over last year, as the utility failed to adequately serve ratepayers in the aftermaths of Hurricane Irene and Sandy. Their application to suck more out of our residents’ pockets is utterly offensive.”