Manasquan became the latest municipality to approve a "top 10" list of suggestions for JCP&L after being critical of its performance and communication during superstorm Sandy.
The Borough Council unanimously approved a resolution at its regular meeting Monday that originated in Tinton Falls and was to be considered Monday night in Shrewsbury. The resolution stems from comments and suggestions made by various Monmouth mayors and officials at a regional summit held in Tinton Falls last month to discuss how JCP&L handled Sandy.
"This resolution lists constructive and proactive ways for the management of JCP&L to improve their overall level of service to the residents and municipalities that they serve," Tinton Falls Mayor Michael Skudera has said.
The resolution asks JCP&L to provide municipalities with more information on their power grids, asks for on-site support, advocates for regional, regular conference calls and argues for communication upgrades, among other measures.
The 10 suggestions, which will be forwarded to JCP&L, the Board of Freeholders, the Legislature, the governor's office and the BPU, are as follows:
- Regional Conference Calls: Smaller, regional conference calls between JCP&L and the mayors would provide greater detailed information and increase interactions compared to the current statewide conference calls.
- Process Redesign: Provide an easy to use, web-based process for municipalities to register priority areas with JCP&L instead of the current process of JCP&L informing municipalities of their perceived priorities. Such priorities should include but not be limited to the following: hospitals, schools, senior complexes, nursing homes, group homes, schools, sewer pumping stations, major traffic intersections, and emergency services infrastructure.
- Substations: A web-based process should exist for municipalities to request that JCP&L relocate substations that are in flood zones or other hazardous areas prone to storm damage.
- Recurring Outage Areas: A web-based process should exist for municipalities to register problem areas that frequently lose power with JCP&L so the areas can be inspected and a long-term solution could be provided.
- Power Grid: JCP&L should provide each municipality with an understanding of how their local power grid works and how it affects the community. Such information should include but not be limited to physical or electronic maps depicting power stations, transmission lines, and transformers that could eventually be incorporated into municipal GIS systems.
- Proactive Tree Trimming: JCP&L should work with municipalities and homeowners to identify, plan, and coordinate a long-term proactive effort to prune trees in the municipality
- On-Site Support – JCP&L should establish a fair and equitable formula to provide on-site support to a municipality based on the overall population of each municipality during severe weather events. As an example, for each 5,000 residents in a municipality’s population, JCP&L should provide one on-site support resource that will work with a municipality Office of Emergency Management. This will enable issues to be reported faster and allow for greater communications and productivity between the municipalities and JCP&L. Currently municipalities share a JCP&L representative who may cover several towns and is located off-site.
- Intra-Utility Communications: JCP&L should outline its process to municipalities on how it intends to provide greater communication and coordination between itself and other supportive utilities including but not limited to Verizon, Comcast, and NJ Natural Gas. Currently there is a lag time between the utilities and for example Verizon will erect a new poll that will set there for days before JCP&L fixes the wires.
- Capital Plan: JCP&L should provide each municipal with an overall understanding and commitment to long term infrastructure improvements which should include but not be limited to power lines, equipment, and employees. This plan should be updated every year and sent to each municipality.
- Dedicated Crews: JCP&L should provide each municipality with information on how many trucks are working in each town with a focus on keeping dedicated crews in each town during severe weather. Currently JCP&L crews are spending time traveling to sites at different locations in different towns and are not working in one section at a time. JCP&L crews should work directly with the municipalities Office of Emergency Management to determine effected areas and set priorities rather than having the operations being run remotely from an off-site location.
- Communication Upgrades: JCP&L should provide each municipality with an outline on how it intends to upgrade its overall communications with the residents and municipalizes that they service. This should include but not be limited to the following:
- Web Services: JCP&L should include the addition of Web Services using the XML (Extensible Markup Language), SOAP (SOAP Simple Object Access Protocol), WSDL (Web Services Description Language) and UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery and Integration) open standards to allow municipalities to directly consume data into their internal systems rather than continually having to manually monitor and check the JCP&L website for relevant updates and information. Web Services would greatly increase the communications to municipalities and should include street-by-street updates and time estimates.
- Internet Upgrades – The aforementioned section should also be included on the website of JCP&L and in addition, a color-coded map should be included visibly displaying the outages at a street level.
- Emergency Alerts – JCP&L should provide its plans to each municipality on how it indents to advertise and use an emergency alert (reverse 911) system to provide its customers with relevant information to their home phones, cell phone, and mobile devices.
- Enhanced Call Center: JCP&L should outline and provide each municipality with its plans to overhaul and enhance its customer call center and look for ways to make it more regionally-based. Currently during power outages, municipalities are taking thousands of calls per day and are not provided with relevant information from JCP&L.
Do you agree with the municipalities' suggestions? Tell us in the comments.