Hornik addresses Senate committee hearing on utility’s response to storm

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MARLBORO – Mayor Jonathan Hornik testified at the state Senate’s Law and Public Safety Committee meeting on Oct. 19 regarding Jersey Central Power and Light’s response to outages resulting from tropical storm Isaias in early August.

The hearing was chaired by Sen. Linda R. Greenstein (D-Mercer and Middlesex), according to a press release from Hornik’s office.

Following the storm, Marlboro experienced extended power outages and residents
received what Hornik said were inaccurate text messages sent by JCP&L. The mayor said the messages were misleading and incorrect, and caused further confusion to residents.

Prior to his state Senate testimony, Hornik wrote to New Jersey Board of Public Utilities President Joseph L. Fiordaliso, copying other officials and representatives from JCP&L.

In response, state Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin invited Hornik to testify before an Assembly committee on Aug. 19. The mayor’s testimony was followed by a tele-conference with Fiordaliso, according to the press release.

Each of the communications detailed what Hornik said was JCP&L’s inadequate response to the power outages caused by Isaias.

During the Oct. 19 Senate hearing, Hornik said, in part, “Isaias was a quick moving storm, yet many of our residents were without power for as long as the multi-day Sandy (in 2012). We understand it takes time to assess and allocate resources, but days after Isaias passed, JCP&L did not have answers.

“On the first day following Isaias, 90% of our residents were without power. On day two it was 80% and on day three it was 70%. It was not until day four that power was to be restored to just over half our residents,” the mayor said.

“I was on the phone with JCP&L four, five and six times a day. They promised trucks were on their way, yet nothing happened. The most frustrating part is that JCP&L seems to be happy with their storm response.

“I have come to the realization that JCP&L has only one goal and that is to protect their shareholders by maximizing profits. Unless the lawmakers institute substantial penalties for poor restoration efforts and the BPU enforces those penalties, JCP&L has no incentive nor intention to fix the problem.

“I am thankful to Sen. Greenstein and the Senate for allowing me to speak before this committee on behalf of my residents. I hope JCP&L will be required to invest in measurable and concrete storm response, meaningful system upgrades, and substantially improve their communication with the public and local elected officials,” Hornik said.