Jackie Espinoza from Jersey Central Power & Light updated the Hardyston Township Council on the Reliability Plus Program.
She said JCP&L is about half-way through the program and expects to finish by the end of 2020.
As part of that program, tree branches have been removed and TripSavers have been added. Espinoza said they are hopeful that March, a typically high month with power outages, will have less due to these changes.
Questions about the December outages and potential rate increases were asked. One council member asked about why the outage estimation for some changed from one day to an extended period. Espinoza said that the December storm was an unusual storm in the sense that even though the storm passed through it was not until the next day that the weight of the now and ice began to affect the lines and caused power outages. She added that usually outages go down after the storm but with the December storm, the time period for outage repair went up.
Espinoza encourages everyone to call in during outages because they need to know if it is 1 house or an entire neighborhood. She said, “communication and coordination of activities can be challenging during an outage.”
With regards to increase in rates, Espinoza said even with a rate increase, they would be the lowest rates in the state and those funds could be used to continue activities that are being done under the Reliability Plus Program.
Espinoza also assured everyone that squirrel contact is a legitimate reason for power outages, even though she also thought that people were making that up when she first started working with JCP&L. She now knows differently and relayed a story about how wires can be chewed by squirrels.