Assembly Commitee Calls For More Accountability From Power Providers

Sep 20, 2018

A bill advanced by a New Jersey Assembly committee would require utility companies to better monitor intrusive vegetation growing near power lines.
Credit Phil Gregory / WBGO

The New Jersey Legislature is considering bills that could better prepare electric providers during future storms. The bills require the utility companies to better monitor threats to power lines and take steps to get the power back on sooner. 

Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee chairman Wayne DeAngelo says maintenance at aging switch yards and substations has been questionable during power outages.  

“I’ve had mayors of towns with Jersey Central tell me ‘Wayne, I’m standing here in front of this substation or switch yard, they say that they’re in there repairing it but there’s nobody there.”

During this past winter, the state’s Board of Public Utilities reported that about 2,000 utility poles came down and most of those were knocked down by trees.  A bill co-sponsored by DeAngelo would have utilities monitor intrusive vegetation.

“It’s not just a plant growing underneath a powerline.  It’s making sure that the trees and infrastructure is protected. That the trees that are next to it can’t fall over and knock down the high-tension wires that create a loss of power for tens of thousands of individuals.”

DeAngelo says his main concern is keeping people safe.  Bill co-sponsor Harold Wirths says falling power lines can be dangerous to residents, with potential to cause major power outages during a storm.

“Anyone that drives around many roads in the state of New Jersey will see the branches laying on the wires, intertwined with the wires and it’s just unacceptable.”