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O&R WIll 'Listen Closely' To Resident Critiques Wednesday

The state Board of Public Utilities is holding a public hearing on the utility's response to Hurricane Sandy

Wednesday afternoon, residents and officials in Orange & Rockland’s service area will have the chance to share their feelings about the utility’s response to Hurricane Sandy at a Board of Public Utilities public hearing in Ramsey.

According to O&R spokesman Mike Donovan, BPU hearings like this are common after major storms, and are happening with different power companies all over the state.

“The format of this hearing calls for us to make a brief presentation, which we will,” Donovan said. But, “the hearing is set up to get the public’s input so the bulk of the hearing is devoted to testimony from customers.”

He added, “We’ll be listening closely to what folks have to say.”

Local officials say they will be giving the utility and the BPU, which is tasked with regulating utilities that serve New Jersey, a lot to listen to.

“I think [O&R] failed in its efforts to communicate with mayors and, more importantly with residents,” Mahwah Mayor Bill Laforet said. “A map with an orange triangle that represents 3,000 homes and says power will be back within two weeks is too blue sky of an indication.”

Laforet said he plans to speak at Wednesday’s hearing about communication from the utility, and the “logistics of crew deployment,” around the township, which he said he has questions about.

The state’s first post-Sandy utility hearing, held Monday in Basking Ridge to discuss JP&L’s response to the storm reportedly attracted complaints from dozens of residents and officials in that utility’s service area. According to the Wayne Patch, concerns raised at that hearing included comments on a lack of communication and a haphazard road-closure plan.

Orange & Rockland services about 302,000 electric customers, about 250,000 of which lost power during the storm. It has about 11,000 customers in Mahwah and 6,600 in Ramsey. Over 90 percent of the customer base in both towns lost power as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Total power was restored 11 days after Sandy hit.

The utility called the superstorm the biggest natural disaster to ever hit its coverage area.

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities public hearing is Wednesday from 4 - 7 p.m. in the Ramsey High School auditorium.

Anyone who cannot attend in person can email comments to board.secretary@bpu.state.nj.us or mail them 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.

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