Mon Sep 21 2020 04:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

Assembly Bill A-4621 Appoints Shore Area BPU Member

LESS THAN A month after Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari penned a letter to local legislators asking that a Shore-area resident be appointed to the state Board of Public Utilities, his request has become legislation.

On September 14 three Ocean County legislators introduced Assembly Bill A-4621, which would require that at least one resident of Cape May, Atlantic, Monmouth or Ocean County be appointed to the BPU.

Vicari made his request following an August tropical storm that wiped out power for thousands of Southern New Jersey residents.

Many residents went without power for days and lost valuable food and prescription medicines.

After Jersey Central Power & Light refused to offer reimbursements to residents ho suffered through extended power outages, Vicari took his case to the BPU, so far without success.

He also expressed concern that the five sitting BPU Commissioners are all from inland or northern counties.

"I believe that a Shore-area representative on the state Board of Public Utilities would go a long way in answering our residents' continued concerns about JCP&L and other utilities," Vicari said in the August 24 letter to Gov. Phil Murphy and local legislators. The Shore region is especially vulnerable to hurricanes and other coastal storms that frequently cripple our electrical infrastructure. A BPU member who represents and understands our region's unique problems would be an asset to the entire state."

Three weeks later, Assemblymen Ron Dancer, Gregory McGuckin and John Catalano, all R-Ocean, introduced a bill in the lower house based on Vicari's request. The bill was immediately referred to the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee.

"I want to thank our legislators for carrying the ball to Trenton," Vicari said. "Our state representatives agree that JCP&L and all utilities need to be held accountable."

Vicari has also worked closely with Monmouth County Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone on the issue.

"Lengthy power outages as we just saw hurt tourism which is an economic engine for both Monmouth and Ocean counties," Vicari said. "Power outages also cause great concern for our large senior communities and our hard working families."

Board of Public Utilities commissioners are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate.