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Regulators Could Levy Big Fines Against Utility Companies

Legislation sponsored by Governor Christie means PSE&G could be fined up to $25,000 a day for failing to adhere to their own service and communications plans during emergencies.

Gov. Chris Christie wants utility companies held accountable for their response to emergencies like Tropical Storm Irene.

The Reliability, Preparedness, and Storm Response Act of 2012 would empower state regulators to levy hefty fines against utility companies who don't follow their own response regulations.

The legislation raises potential administrative penalties against companies from $100 to $25,000 per daily assessment. Companies would be barred from passing any fines onto customers, Christie said in a statement.

The announcement comes on the heels of a report released Wednesday by the Board of Public Utilities (BPU). The BPU investigated several New Jersey Utility Provides to determine how they responded during recent emergencies, including Tropical Storm Irene and the severe snowstorm in October. 

The bill requires utility companies to provide detailed service delivery and communications plans to the BPU. Companies that fail to adequately follow their own plans will face a $25,000 a penalty per day. Companies could be fined a maximum of $2 million. 

“Hurricane Irene and then the October snowstorm posed some serious, unprecedented challenges for our utility providers,” Christie said “While those storms brought out the real professionalism of so many of the employees of the public utilities, they also exposed the vulnerabilities of our utility infrastructure and avoidable mistakes, including the ability to communicate accurate, dependable and timely information to customers and local authorities.”

Christie said the legislation provides a protection for customers by allowing accountability and oversight from the BPU and providing higher standards for preparedness and reliability before large events such as a hurricane.

State Senators Kevin O'Toole (District 40) and Joe Pennacchio submitted the bill to the Office of Legislative Services Wednesday. It is scheduled to be introduced to the Senate and assigned a bill number on Thursday.

JimmyPete September 05, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Wow Christie is acting like a Democrat, increasing regulations,maybe he's a closet socialist, check his birth certificate
Brad September 05, 2012 at 10:07 PM
how about going after these crooks like Cablevision for illegally charging me for a box when I already pay for the service. You cant make me pay for a service, and then tell me that I can't get that service unless I pay more for a box.... That is extortion...
Annie September 06, 2012 at 06:37 PM
About time. How many times in more rural areas do you get 5 miles down a road only to have a huge tree down on wires close the road. No warnings, just a long u turn and trip back. As you drive on these roads, you see so many dangling limbs just hanging over the wires (Green Pond Road, Rockaway), Route 515 in Vernon, Pure negligence that needed to be addressed.
Scondo September 06, 2012 at 09:53 PM
Huh? what does a fallen tree have to do with a utility company ?
Nose Wayne September 07, 2012 at 02:28 AM
Scondo,DUH !!! What was the main cause of power failures during the storm ? A) People using to much electricity. B) The Electric Company just wanted to tick people off and turn the power off. C) Tree limbs taking down power lines, Which would you choose ? A,B,C.

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