The Morris County Board of Freeholders has demanded that Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) refund its customers in the county that were without power for several days following the destruction caused by Tropical Storm Isaias.
The board adopted a resolution Wednesday night calling for the company to refund Morris County residents’ August electric bills, the cost of medications and food lost during the power outage.
The resolution also demanded that the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities mandate JCP&L “invest substantially in electricity infrastructure in and surrounding Morris County to strengthen the network and in turn eliminate extended power outages,” according to a release from the board.
“This is about the corporation and those who run it, not the line crews who literally risked their own safety when JCP&L recruited them to deal with downed power lines and storm-damaged trees,” Freeholder Tayfun Selen, who introduced the resolution, said in the release.
“I fully respect the dangerous work those men and women do for us. But the corporate officials failed on a basic level to communicate with the families left without power. They even issued inaccurate information to the public about where residents could obtain ice and water. This is all unacceptable.”
Nearly 130,000 Morris County residents were left in the dark after the tropical storm hit New Jersey on Aug. 4 and toppled trees and power lines, according to the release. About 30,000 of those residents were without power for five days following the storm.
The resolution states that JCP&L failed to properly communicate with its customers and public officials as the outage stretched out for days after the storm, and that the utility was slow in restoring power to thousands of households.
Company spokesman Clifford Cole told NJ Advance Media that following major storms, JCP&L tries to improve on things that went wrong and was working to refine its storm preparation and outage restoration process.
“A customer can file a claim and it will be reviewed on an individual basis,” Cole said. “However, losses and damages resulting from natural events such as tropical storms are not reimbursed under Section 4.01 of JCP&L’s Board approved tariff. This includes damages from the loss of power, as well as personal items such as food. We encourage our customers to work through their homeowner’s or renter’s insurance to seek coverage of any storm losses.”
Cole added that JCP&L has also invested $1 billion dollars in capital improvement projects since 2016.
The Board of Public Utilities did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday evening.
Earlier this month, the Hunterdon County Freeholders demanded that both JCP&L and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities be held accountable for their response to the storm.
Chris Sheldon may be reached at email@example.com.