JCP&L Leaving Customers in the Dark, Residents Say

Utility company refuses to commit to a power restoration schedule. Officials create petition asking the Board of Public Utilities to rescind the JCP&L's license to sell power in Wayne.

It is 46 degrees in Fred Ritsema’s house. Ritsema and his family have been without power for more than a week.

Ritsema and his family are Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) customers. Residents have been asking the power utility for some kind, any kind, of estimate as to when they might have their power restored.

“I haven’t seen anybody working in my neighborhood,” Ritsema said. “When I called yesterday they told me I’d have it back by Wednesday. Well that didn’t happen obviously.”

Ritsema is one of thousands of Wayne residents who have been literally left in the dark when it comes to having their power restored to their homes.

JCP&L services approximately 15 percent of Wayne residents. According to information on the company’s website, 1,025 JCP&L customers did not have power Wednesday night. Now the company estimates “the majority of customers are expected to be restored by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 11,” according to a notice on the JCP&L website.

JCP&L previously told residents their power would be restored by Wednesday. However, power wasn’t restored to anyone Tuesday or Wednesday.

Several residents have said they haven’t seen a JCP&L service vehicle in town for days, if at all, since Superstorm Sandy.

Donna Saitta lives on Fieldstone Place. She lost power Oct. 29. She also lost power for days when Tropical Storm Irene hit and during the snowstorm last October.

“I don’t know who is to blame, but I feel like this has became our reality. Every time something major happens weather wise we’re going to lose power. It’s appalling.”

Residents said they have tried and failed to get answers from JCP&L customer service representatives.

“No one has the answers,” Saitta said. “There’s no one you can talk to who is going to tell you anything.”

Mayor Chris Vergano drove to the company’s headquarters in Morristown to try and get some answers.

Vergano met with Vice President of External Affairs Mark Jones Tuesday to get some definitive answers regarding when power might be restored to Wayne.

Jones said the company "would continue to work in Wayne throughout the week until everybody is back up and running.

"We have made some progress in Wayne. We have approximately 10,000 people out there working, trying to restore power as quickly and safely as they can," Jones said when reached by phone on Wednesday. "There is still significant damage all over the state."

“They were unwilling to commit to any schedule of when they will have Wayne repaired,” Vergano said. “Meanwhile, it is unacceptable that this is the answer we are getting after our residents have slept in the cold for days."

Temperatures dropped into the low 30s and upper 20s Wednesday evening during the nor'easter that worked its way up the East Coast.

Evelyn Lequerita said it was warmer outside than in her house on Horizon Drive.

"It's like an ice box," Lequerita said. "At first they told us by Wednesday. Now they tell us maybe by Sunday we'll have power back. You can't even believe what they tell you."

Jones sympathized with the customers.

"We understand people's frustrations," he said. "It's cold outside and we're doing everything we can."

Officials want residents to sign a petition asking the state Board of Public Utilities, Gov. Chris Christie, and the state Legislature to rescind JCP&L’s franchise to sell energy to Wayne residents.

Nearly 60 people signed the petition as of 9 p.m. Wednesday.

— Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Daniel Hubbard at Daniel.Hubbard@patch.com or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Nose Wayne November 08, 2012 at 03:45 PM
I have seen numerous PSE&G trucks out on the road since the storm. Have yet to see ONE JCP&L truck ANYWHERE in town. HELLO ? we had a major storm here, anybody home ?
Alan Katz November 08, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Alan Katz Jcp&l. Should be fined and stripped of their franchise in north jersey. Their reporting numbers are a joke they have been lying to us all. They are the only company that numbers are going up. I just looked at the list of towns still out of service and the don't even show West Milford Nj and i can tell you the 600+ in my lake community have been out for 10 days. The temperature in my house went down to 35 degree last night god help us all my biggest fear is because of their incompetents our homes pipe will start to freeze and the body count will increases.
Ronald Finkelstein November 08, 2012 at 04:06 PM
I understand that the local officials are trying to get the power companies payments to JCP&L until we are switched to another company?
Jacqueline Pisatowski November 08, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Contact RestoremyElectric@gmail.com if you are still without power to join our petition. We need one sentence explaining your situation, your name, address and phone number.
Ronald Finkelstein November 08, 2012 at 04:10 PM
The only power we have is through our checkbooks. We should pay them again when they either switch us to another company or agree to maintain an acceptable level of service. It does not take this long to have power restored in Vietnam or India.
Chris Traynor November 08, 2012 at 04:49 PM
THE ONLY POWER WE HAVE IS THROUGH OUR CHECKBOOKS. A perfect encapsulation of the consumer situation with which we are now faced. (Thank you, Ronald Finkelstein) I'm very glad that we have a petition to sign but the only motivating leverage we control is JCP&L REVENUE ... whether that's delaying all of our payments until we receive offsetting credits against our accounts or switching service providers to divert revenue permanently. Why do they care so little about New Jersey? I'm not completely sure but I do know that have a critical provider (JCP&L through their parent FIRST ENERGY) headquartered out of state ... with all of the customer service people in Ohio and West Virginia, certainly doesn't help. They might be good folks but there is NO ADDITIONAL ELEMENT OF COMMUNITY OR HOME-STATE PRIDE pushing them to try harder. They cannot feel the same if NJ, once again, gets a black eye. They cannot feel the same if their neighbors where they live ARE NOT DEPENDENT UPON THEM for caring, professional ACTION to restores homes and businesses and schools. At the very least, towns and communities should insist that a utility house their service repair/emergency-personnel in the State they are supposedly supporting. No matter what ... if we drop the ball after the lights come on ... if we dilute today's outrage with more episodes of REAL HOUSEWIVES OF HOOTERVILLE and THE KARDASHIANS RUN MENIAL ERRANDS, then I guess we will deserve whatever it is that we get ... in the dark.
Robert Pignatello November 08, 2012 at 04:59 PM
I with held my payment last year. It is something we should do. i received the monthly bill in the middle of last years 8 day blackout. What infuriates me is that we learned and did nothing after last years debacle. They had hearings, there was a lot of empty promises from the bpu and whammo here we are again. With the right planning and management these effects could have been greatly mitigated. We all helplessly watched transformers lighting up the sky oct 29 like fireworks and have been forced out of our own homes. Enough of this.
Jacqueline Pisatowski November 08, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Contact RestoremyElectric@gmail.com if you are still without power to join our petition. We need one sentence explaining your situation, your name, address and phone number.
paul krisa November 08, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Jcpl crew was on terhune drive last pm then they left...i told them about transformer down the road they said they know ...anyone see.them working.today?
Ronald Finkelstein November 08, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Seriously, lets organize a group to hold back payment to JCP&L. What are they going to do? Turn off our power. We are at a point where we have to advocate for ourselves. I am on the Equal Payment Plan, I am fully expecting a bill any day now.
Paul Walters 4th Ward November 08, 2012 at 05:40 PM
I would like to know how many of you “no power people” wet to bat for the flood victims who lost there homes. Most of you could care less. It was there fault right? They bought homes in a flood zone. Now you know how it feels. Keep in mind councilmen like Mr. Scuralli and this town council and mayor are the same bunch who left families living in their cars after Irene. They did nothing for these people. Now you want them to help you? Don’t hold your breath.
Ben November 08, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Flooding is totally different than powerless. I feel terrible for everyone who suffers a loss. A utility cannot be equated to a flood situtaion. I have been through both, and both ties my neighbors helped me out. Yes I moved out of the flood area, but at the time, I did have the choice to live there. And I knew at the time it was going to have flood issues and bought anyway. So yes it is a choice. However, I don't have a choice of electric company. It is what it is. Its a totally different thing than moving to an area where theres a choice. I'm sure those in the flood areas are going to jump down on me for this. But it is what it is. People could careless as you put it, about the past, we are living in the TODAY. Is your house flooded? When will you stop looking for pity for something that happened in the past.
Robert Pignatello November 08, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Loss of power. Flooding. These are both life and safety threats that should receive equal attention and concern from our officials and from each other. We are fortunate that Sandy did not also bring much rain. We might have been dealing with both. Would we have been prepared? I don't know the answer to that exactly. I do know that our first responders risk their own safety and lives to protect us. They deserve our support and appreciation. The plans that activate their response and how that coordinates with other organizations and agencies should be reviewed. That's just common sense. Emergency planning is ever evolving and dynamic. For us in wayne the nature, severity, complexity and frequency of these events demands it and we should as well. frequency of these
Ben November 08, 2012 at 06:19 PM
I totally agree with that statement. I just didn't agree with the previous one. But nothing is going to change. After the last storm where JCP&L said they spent 200 million upgrading, did anyone really follow up with them on that. From what the out of state lineman are saying they didn't spend it on upgrading the equipment out there. Its old, fagile and some parts aren't even made today. Are those things you really want to here about? if they really cared about safety, then the old stuff should have been removed a while ago.
Ben November 08, 2012 at 06:31 PM
do you know that first energy has the gull to release the Q3 report. I know they are national company but its just fantastic. Looks heres how much money we make. https://www.firstenergycorp.com/content/fecorp/newsroom/news_releases/firstenergy-announces-third-quarter-2012-earnings.html
Jacqueline Pisatowski November 08, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Contact RestoremyElectric@gmail.com if you are still without power to join our petition. We need one sentence explaining your situation, your name, address and phone number.
Gene B November 08, 2012 at 08:38 PM
wyldthang18 November 08, 2012 at 09:41 PM
I hope this company burns in hell.
Jacqueline Pisatowski November 08, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Contact RestoremyElectric@gmail.com if you are still without power to join our petition. We need one sentence explaining your situation, your name, address and phone number.
Jacqueline Pisatowski November 08, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Contact RestoremyElectric@gmail.com if you are still without power to join our petition. We need one sentence explaining your situation, your name, address and phone number.
Jacqueline Pisatowski November 08, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Contact RestoremyElectric@gmail.com if you are still without power to join our petition. We need one sentence explaining your situation, your name, address and phone number.
paul krisa November 09, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Jc p and l crews were working wed and yestdrday on terhune drive still no power....will be calling mayors office again this am...called jcpanl last pm..the lady who answered was clueless as to where the crews were working so i told her...also the public relations.directof.at.jcpand l doesnt return calls....i called arnold.diaz.from.fox.5.shame on yiu and i.advise others to do thd.same
Rex miatke November 09, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Paul I was on Terhune last night when they tripped the system and the whole area went black. I watched as neighborhoods went black as the system piggy backed on its self. Couldn't believe what I was seeing. Some areas came back up but others stayed dark. Did the crews stay. no!!!!!!!!!! They left knowing the system was crashing. This morning system at 6:30 comes on and off 5 times and then out again. Something is very wrong with their system. We here in Wayne deserve much better from our power company!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Robert Pignatello November 09, 2012 at 02:39 PM
It is very hard to believe we will all have power by this weekend. Its good to call the meia. But How about shame on our elected officials? These utilizes are regulated by the state. It's The board of public utilities who are appointed by the governor. Where are our state representatives? Why aren't our local officials pressuring them to help us?
Robert Pignatello November 09, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Like last year JCP&L just throws people in here (not blaming the workers) with no plan. Woefully inadequate supervision, And no communication to let people know what's going on. Why are we surprised ? This is exactly what they did last year, only worse. And those who have the responsibility to hold them accountable did very little to change their approach. What changes did they make from last year? And here we are. Helpless cold and out of patience.
paul krisa November 09, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Many thanks.to mayor vergano and his police bodyguards their visit and confrontation with jcpl executives
Robert Pignatello November 09, 2012 at 06:45 PM
If you are like us you received in the mail today your bill from your friendly neighborhood utility company JCP&L. Return to sender. What nerve.
Nose Wayne November 09, 2012 at 07:58 PM
You think they would have learned after Irene ? Guess they still need some homework.
Robert Pignatello November 10, 2012 at 01:39 AM
Here's what I believe. I met a crew this afternoon in our Wayne neighborhood. They were subcontractors for Jcpl. They were from Michigan. I asked them where they had just come from. They said Massachusetts. What, there aren't skilled workers here in nj that can do this? We have to wait for people to come from Michigan. New Mexico and West Virginia.? Why? They have a limit they want to spend on a crew and dispatch them all over their vast national marketplace. "We ll get to wayne whenever we get there". My friends, the magnitude of the storm was severe. The work was not complex. There was just a lot of it. If this utility invested twice as much in people power and support to restore us it would have happened twice as fast. I think it was that simple. They didn't want to spend the money. The government didn't force them to and we paid the price.
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