Column as submitted by the office of Assemblyman Greg McGuckin:
Assembly Republicans Gregory McGuckin, Scott T. Rumana and Donna Simon will introduce the “Reliability, Preparedness and Storm Response Act of 2012” to help ensure the power stays on in homes and businesses when disaster strikes.
“Last year’s storms proved that some electric companies were not prepared to keep the power on for homes and businesses,” Assemblyman Gregory McGuckin, R-Ocean, said. “Our plan will ensure they are better prepared to respond and communicate with customers during challenging conditions. Electric companies will be accountable to ratepayers, or pay the price.”
The measure, proposed last week by Governor Christie after last year’s outages caused by Hurricane Irene and an October snowstorm, requires utilities to submit plans addressing service reliability, communications and flooding of substations. The legislation would impose greater oversight by the state Board of Public Utilities.
“The first job for a public utility is to make sure that power, a basic necessity for families and businesses, stays on,” Assembly Republican Whip Scott T. Rumana, R-Passaic, Bergen, Essex and Morris, said. “Our plan reflects New Jersey’s commitment to protect ratepayers and work with utilities to improve the kind of response we experienced last year.”
The legislation would impose severe fines – which cannot be passed through to ratepayers – against electric companies that don’t comply.
“For many homeowners, last year’s storms packed a triple punch: the storm, the outage and then days of broken promises and inaccurate information that their power would be turned back on,” Assemblywoman Donna Simon, R-Hunterdon, Somerset, Mercer and Middlesex, said. “Although nature is unpredictable, we can improve preparedness and hold electric companies accountable to the families and businesses they serve.”
The legislation, which will be formally introduced this month, will also be sponsored by Assembly Republicans Erik Peterson, R-Hunterdon, Warren and Somerset, and Amy H. Handlin, R-Monmouth.