Oroho, Space & Wirths to Governor: Let’s Finally Implement BPU Recommendation to Reduce Power Outages During Storms
After the first snowstorm of the season left reportedly 37,000 New Jerseyans without power, Senator Steve Oroho and Assemblymen Parker Space and Hal Wirths (all R-Sussex, Warren, Morris) urged Governor Phil Murphy to get behind a State Board of Public Utilities (BPU) proposal to allow power companies to trim trees around power lines without having to go through a bureaucratic morass. The legislators are sponsors of legislation to implement the BPU’s recommendation.
“Yesterday’s snowstorm has wreaked havoc on many communities, especially in northern New Jersey, disrupting families and businesses due to the lack of electricity,” said Oroho. “This happens all too often during violent weather conditions. Enough is enough. Downed trees are usually the cause of most of these outages, so it makes sense to allow utility companies to trim back branches and vulnerabilities that may threaten electric service. We have legislation that would allow this important maintenance to occur, but the governor’s office has expressed concerns despite the BPU’s recommendation. Governor Murphy – please allow us to put a concrete plan into action that will help prevent the power from going out during these severe storms.”
The bipartisan legislation sponsored by all three legislators, S-2505/A-2558, would authorize an electric public utility to use all reasonable methods to maintain and remove hazardous vegetation. The bill would also establish a municipal program to develop effective strategies to implement the provisions of this bill. The bill does not allow utilities to clear cut vegetation that does not interfere with power lines.
“Blackouts are more than a frustrating inconvenience. Lost power can quickly become a life or death situation for those who depend on medical equipment for survival,” stated Space. “We have a solution that can help reduce the frequency and duration of outages. We are open to hear Governor Murphy’s suggestions if he thinks the bill can be improved, but we must act now so we know we are doing all we can to keep the lights on for residents when faced with a violent weather event.”
“Losing electricity during heavy winter weather was a reoccurring problem last year, and our constituents are frankly fed up,” added Wirths. “The BPU has even recommended that the state take this action. Let’s get to work on a bipartisan basis to prevent power loss before the next big storm hits.”
The Assembly version passed overwhelming in December of last year and the bills are now pending a vote before the full Senate. The legislation was scheduled for a full Senate vote earlier this year, but was pulled for consideration when the governor’s office weighed in with their concerns.