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McKeon on Power Outages from Tropical Storm Isaias, Need for Public Policy to Strengthen NJ Utility Infrastructure

Responding to effects of Tropical Storm Isaias, which left millions without power in some areas of New Jersey for a number of days, and the immediate need to mitigate deficiencies of utility infrastructure, Assemblyman John McKeon (D-Essex, Morris) released the following statement:

          “We have an opportunity to do better here, to correct course and tackle the infrastructural problems we’ve known how to fix since Superstorm Sandy: avoidable utility problems, which yet again caused power outages for 1.4 million in New Jersey in recent Tropical Storm Isaias.

          “The fact that for some towns it has taken days to fix outages and restore power to people’s homes and businesses is a clear issue. As the severity and frequency of storms is likely to ramp up in the face of climate change, it is even more critical for infrastructural deficiencies to be addressed now.

          “Two pieces of legislation I introduced back in 2012, following Hurricane Sandy, would certainly be a great starting point. The first of these is a measure (A-3100) that would give the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) and our state power companies the flexibility they need to determine best approaches to hardening transmission lines directly running power into homes and businesses. The second bill (A-3105) seeks to implement higher standards for the replacement or installation of older utility poles with higher grade materials, so they can better withstand extreme wind and weather.”

          “It is especially prudent being in the midst of pandemic to make sure our utilities operations aren’t challenged. Prolonged blackouts impact people’s ability to stay safely in their homes, they impact hospitals, cause business closures and particularly increase the vulnerability of our seniors and low-income communities.

          “Strengthening our utilities equips us to better care for our residents, their homes and business, and our economy. Doing the work now will prove to be a great investment in our future.”