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Mayor Diligent on Summit Electrical Grid Issue

Greg Elliott

Tuesday, December 24, 2013 • 5:22pm

SUMMIT, NJ - Prior to Hurricane Sandy and the major power outage that followed, Mayor Ellen Dickson and City officials have been meeting with JCP&L and representatives from the Board of Public Utilities, which regulates the electrical utility industry, to address the status of Summit’s electrical grid. 

“Over the past year, I have participated in working sessions and met repeatedly with representatives from JCP&L,” Dickson explains. “In fact, the day before our most recent outage, City Administrator Christopher Cotter and I met with three top officials from JCP&L to discuss the possibility of undergrounding wires and other options such as natural gas generators in key areas of the downtown.”

At the most recent NJ League of Municipalities Conference in Atlantic City in November, Dickson testified at two separate sessions on challenges associated with the electrical grid, and remains focused on getting improvements made.  “I will continue to work with JCP&L to improve the reliability and robustness of the present infrastructure,” said Dickson.  “But it is not an easy fix.”

Although JCP&L has taken steps to improve response times during emergency events, many Summit residents remain critical.  During the most recent outage, a raccoon interfered with Summit Substation equipment on Franklin Place causing 3,000 customers, including many downtown businesses, to be without power for a large part of the day.

“While JCP&L is able to estimate how many customers are without power when a Substation goes down, we do not have an automated smart grid that tells us who exactly is without power,” explains Stan Prater, JCP&L Local Area Manager.  “That is why we depend on people to call in to report their outage.”

“Like it or not, it is a one-way system,” Dickson continues.  “Even if you think your neighbor has called in about the power outage, you still need to call.  That’s really the only way to make certain that the utility knows your power is out.”

To report power outages to JCP&L, call 888-544-4877.  Visit cityofsummit.org for emergency information and to signup for CodeRED and Nixle alerts. 

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