(TRENTON) – Assembly Democrats Angela McKnight and Wayne DeAngelo, along with Speaker Craig Coughlin today announced that a joint hearing of the Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness and Telecommunications and Utilities Committees will be convened to examine the response of utility companies to widespread power outages throughout New Jersey in the wake of Tropical Storm Isaias.
“We understand unusually powerful storms like Isaias often result in loss of power for our residents, however there seems to be a disturbing pattern of lag times in restoration,” said McKnight (D-Hudson), chair of the Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee. “I feel it is necessary and appropriate to speak with utility companies to get answers as to why so many residents are without power for so long in the aftermath of storms, many not nearly as powerful as Isaias.”
Over 1.3 million New Jerseyans lost power as a result of the storm. As of early Friday afternoon, approximately 300,000 Garden State residents were still without power and some are being told full restoration may not come until late Tuesday night.
“It is entirely unacceptable that some New Jersey families will be without power for a week,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer, Middlesex), chair of the Telecommunications and Utilities Committee. “It’s not as though New Jersey hasn’t seen its fair share of storms in recent years. So-called ‘100-year storms’ hit our state with regularity. With that in mind, we’d like to know how it is possible that utility companies serving New Jerseyans haven’t used their experience to be better prepared and more responsive.”
The joint committee will invite utility company representatives, local elected officials, environmentalists and other stakeholders to gather facts and pertinent information to help ensure that going forward prolonged power outages are a rarity rather than the norm.
“Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of New Jersey families are staying home as a matter of health and safety,” said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “Many residents have nowhere else to go during the public health crisis. It is intolerable that many of them are now living in their homes without power. They can’t charge their phones or computers. They have no air conditioning. Their refrigerators are not running. In the year 2020, residents suffering through such a lengthy power outage is unsatisfactory to say the least.”
The time and date of the joint committee hearing will be announced in the coming days.