TRENTON — Utility regulators have outlined new recommendations aimed at improving response times to power outages in New Jersey.
Board of Public Utilities officials testified before an Assembly panel Thursday about the proposed rules, which require electricity companies to provide customers with a time frame for power restoration 24 hours after a major outage. And within 48 hours, utilities will have to start giving emergency management officials daily updates on how many outages their towns have and how many customers can expect service restored that day.
During the heavy wind and rain storm Wednesday, about 35,000 Atlantic City Electric customers were without power. The hardest-hit areas were Atlantic and Cape May counties. At the height of the storm, service was out to about 19,000 customers in parts of Longport, Margate and Ventnor and the southern end of Atlantic City, the utility said.
As of 1 p.m. Thursday, there were fewer than 700 customers out of service, but power was expected to be restored to nearly everyone by 12 a.m. today. But in other recent storms, customers have had to wait a long time for power to return.
During Hurricane Sandy, Atlantic City Electric reported more than 130,000 customers without power, while Jersey Central Power and Light reported about 20,000 customers with outages in the South Jersey portion of its coverage area. JCP&L reported no outages Thursday evening in Ocean County.
Sandy, which struck in late October, knocked power out to nearly 3 million customers in New Jersey for as long as 13 days. The storm killed people in 10 states but hit New York and New Jersey the hardest.
During the derecho storm that affected Cumberland and Atlantic counties this past summer, more than 200,000 Atlantic City Electric customers lost power. Some portions of Atlantic County did not have it restored for a week.
The 103 measures created by the BPU were drawn up in response to customer complaints after Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Sandy in October.
The board is still in the process of finalizing the new rules with state utility companies and plans to implement most of the measures by the start of hurricane season June 1.
Atlantic City Electric spokesman Frank Tedesco said Thursday night the utility has an emergency plan in place. He said the company will review any new regulations made and will comply with whatever is needed.
The utility has plans to upgrade substations and service lines in Port Norris, Galloway Township, Margate, Ventnor and Sea Isle City.
Some of the new guidelines suggested by the BPU include maintaining a website that shows the outages in each town, cause of the outage, estimated time for restoration, damage estimate and description of the work being done.
Atlantic City Electric also is required to submit a plan describing how mutual assistance crews will be allocated during major events. Its parent company, Pepco Holdings Inc., serves about 2 million customers in Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and South Jersey.
PSEG and JCP&L said they are cooperating with the board's recommendations.
Staff Writer Joel Landau contributed to this report.