During Hurricane Sandy, many residents and township officials voiced their opinions about Orange & Rockland's response to the storm. Now, they will have the chance to do it to the state.
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities announced this week it will be holding a public hearing on the utility's response next Wednesday, Dec. 12. From 4 - 7 p.m., residents and municipal officials from O&R's service area will be able to make public comment about the response in the Ramsey High School auditorium.
According to the announcement,"The purpose of these hearings is to solicit public comments regarding the state of preparedness and responsiveness of the electric distribution companies prior to, during and after Hurricane Sandy."
Mahwah Mayor Bill Laforet said at a town council meeting Thursday night that he plans to attend the hearing and address the Board.
"I want to talk about the fact that I feel they didn't learn from spring football, from going through storms [like Irene] last year," Laforet told Patch. "They didn't set up a better communication system this time around."
O&R CEO William Longhi posted a notice to customers on the utility's website, thanking them for patience during the response to the storm, and noting improvements he said could be made.
"Ultimately, we were able to restore service to over 85% of our affected customers in less than 7 days, recognizing that some of you were without power for up to 11 days. Our response incorporated many of the lessons from the 2011 storms," the letter said. "There was significant improvement in some areas which worked very well, such as processing customer calls. However, we need to improve in other areas, such as providing local estimated restoration times. While this is a continuing challenge within our industry, be assured that O&R is fully committed and focused on improving this particular area, as well as our overall storm response."
The Board said it would plan for additional hearings on utilities that serve customers throughout the state in 2013, but those who cannot make next week's hearings can also submit written comments on the Sandy response.
Written comments may also be emailed to email@example.com or submitted in writing to:
Kristi Izzo, Secretary of the Board Board of Public Utilities
44 South Clinton Avenue, 9th Floor
Post Office Box 350
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0350
'Hurricane Sandy comments – Docket Number EO12111050' should be listed in the email subject line or heading of written correspondence. Comments will be accepted until Jan. 31.