Senator Jim Whelan announced plans to introduce legislation that would improve communication between utility providers, municipalities, the state and consumers during major catastrophic events including hurricanes, thunderstorms, tornadoes, floods, heat waves and snow and ice storms that cause service interruptions.
The “Emergency Information Access Act” is in response to customer outrage following extend utility service interruption after Hurricane Irene. As many as 1.5 million New Jerseyans lost power during the August storm, with many waiting up to eight days for restoration. Many customers and municipal leaders have been concerned with a lack of communication between the utility companies and the communities about when and where service would be restored.
“After Hurricane Irene, people throughout New Jersey were left in the dark both literally and figuratively with little to no information about when they would regain power, water and natural gas service,” Senator Whelan (D-Atlantic) said. “I continue to hear stories from people who received misinformation coming from the utility companies leaving consumers without the ability to make long-term arrangements and plans for post-storm clean up and repairs. New Jerseyans need a system that will provide peace of mind while effectively making available the information they need to begin recovering from these natural disasters and storms. While locally, Atlantic City Electric was exemplary in keeping local officials and the public updated on the storm outages and return of power, we need this to be the normal course of action, not the exception.”