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Engel: Everything is On the Table with JCP&L

The Colts Neck Mayor said he believes electrical wires should be buried.

Mayor Jarrett Engel said it became apparent very early during Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts that information on the ground was invaluable when it came to power outages.

Engel said he and Colts Neck Committeemen seemed to have more information for residents than JCP&L even knew was available.

"Their system is antiquated, it's not like the cable company, which can tell you when you don't have cable. With JCP&L, you have to tell them when your power is out, or they don't know," Engel said.

In fact, Engel said at one point 50 trucks were in Colts Neck waiting for instructions from JCP&L headquarters. But a call to the company's Colts Neck representative revealed headquarters had no idea those trucks were there.

"Four and a half hours after a meeting with the Department of Energy, trucks were in Colts Neck," Engel said. "That was when JCP&L apologized for not being able to send trucks at all. Meanwhile, I was staring at a fleet of trucks."

JCP&L also never delivered water and ice to Colts Neck residents, which Engel said is a mandate in a state of emergency. In Colts Neck, being without power meant a sanitary emergency, as every home in the township runs on well water and septic systems.

In an attempt to make the lives of linemen easier, the Colts Neck Public Works Department made trees near downed or low-hanging wires a priority. The department cut branches as much as possible before linemen got into the township, which should have cut down the time linemen needed to fix wires.

"The infrastructure is antiquated. It is frustrating not to understand why a house at one end of the block would have power, while its neighbor down the street does not," Engel said. "It shouldn't have taken them eight days to clear downed wires."

While linemen worked tirelessly in New Jersey to get everyone up and running, Engel said out-of-town crews were seen sitting and waiting for instructions from JCP&L.

Committeeman Thomas Orgo said at one point, he escorted a fleet of trucks from one end of town in order to light up Colts Neck Reformed Church.

At a small summit of mayors in November to discuss the future of JCP&L, Engel said his suggestion was to bury the power lines. 

"Everything is on the table with JCP&L," the mayor said. 

Engel announced plans to meet soon with state and federal officials to create emergency plans and discuss JCP&L. 

"At one point my daughter said to me, 'Why can't you tell me when I can go home?' That's not right. The power company should be able to answer that most basic question, and they just can't."

anonymous December 07, 2012 at 04:09 PM
They should have started doing this gradually 40 years ago. What are they doing with all that money they take from us every month?
Kaitlyn Anness December 07, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Anonymous--I was rooting around in old archives of the Red Bank Register the other day and found an article from 1969 about JCP&L sitting before the BPU justifying putting wires above ground rather than below, because it was cheaper to construct above ground by a few million dollars. I guess that still holds true? (page 5 in the link below) http://209.212.22.88/data/rbr/1960-1969/1969/1969.06.24.pdf

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