Chatham Borough Expects Better Communication with JCP&L
Tuesday, June 26, 2012 • 8:17am
CHATHAM BOROUGH, NJ - Borough residents should expect better communication with Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L), according to a representative who updated the council on enhancements to the utility’s website that includes a more streamlined process to report problems and receive updates.
In the aftermath of the unexpected October 2011snow and ice storm that paralyzed the municipality, officials met with Stan Prater, JCP&L’s representative to Chatham Borough, in January to discuss their concerns. At the Monday, June 23, Borough Council meeting, he returned and addressed how to report power outages, receive updates, tree trimming, removal of hazardous trees and street light issues.
“Residents can get real time data,” said Prater, noting that the utility enhanced its website, www.firstenergycorp.com. The mapping has changed. It’s more intuitive,” he said, urging the council to put the utility’s link on the municipality’s website.
By clicking on Report Power Outages on the home page, residents can log on to the 24/7 Power Center where they can see affected areas and report an outage or a street light problem and request to receive notification updates. Prater said an application is expected soon that will provide an estimated time for restoration. If JC&L predicts an outage to last more than 24 hours, the website will be provide information on where to get water and ice. He said that the utility also has a process in place with the Chatham Police Department to report street light outages.
Prater said that JCP&L has done major equipment replacement by investing $400 million into its distribution and transmission systems that service more than one million northern and central New Jersey customers.
“What are the principal reasons for outages?” asked Councilman James Collander.
Prater listed five. “Forty to 45 percent are due to trees, 20 percent are due to animals--squirrels are not our friends,” he said, adding that thunder and lightening is a problem. “It’s an easy repair when wires come down but not when limbs come down.” Some outages are unknown, others are due to equipment failure. Prater noted that fallen trees were 80 percent of the problem when 380,000 residents lost power in the October storm.
“When power goes out, most people think it’s an overload problem, but many times its animals,” observed Collander.
Councilman Leonard Resto suggested that JCP&L put that kind of information on its site so that people understand animals play a part in outages.
Council President James Lonergan pressed Prater about the power grid. “If the wind blows in Chatham, the power goes out,” he said. “Is the grid as strong as you expect?”
“Yes,” said Prater. “We have enough capacity.”
Lonergan broached the tree trimming topic, specifically about the unattractive v-shape that is left once a tree is trimmed from around wires. Prater explained that representatives inform the town they are working on the trees. “If refusals arise, they work with the town,” he said, adding that the utility advises towns to “Plan before you plant.” He advised against planting Pin Oaks and Maples, for instance. The wire zone is 15 feet, he said.
A the end of his presentation, Prater gave a $1,000 check on behalf of JCP&L to the borough’s Public Arts Committee to put toward the cost of the Fairmount Avenue train underpass mural project.